Drumbeat in Our Feet
This joyful picture book uses watercolor-and-pencil artwork to show African dances from all over the continent and kids ‘coming from Brooklyn, coming from Harlem, the Bronx and down the subway lines’ to learn them at the Harlem’s Batoto Yetu dance studio. On each left-hand page is a sepia-tone illustration of a traditional African dance, accompanied by detailed notes about its origin, the performance, and the cultural tradition. Opposite pages include a rhythmic verse and a full-color picture of children in their American studio learning the dance, painting their faces and bodies with traditional designs, and putting on a show. Eschewing primitive stereotypes and generic connections, Keeler presents a wealth of detailed information about call-and-response, musical instruments, image dances, and much more. The busy art celebrates both the rich diversity of African dance traditions and the joy of passing them on. A map, a selection of photos of kids at the school, and a brief bibliography are appended.