Knockin' On Wood
By Center for Children's Books
(The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books) …This is a compact and enlightening biography of an unusual figure. The easygoing text quietly provides historical context enough to understand Bates’ world, simply explaining components from sharecropping to segregation to theatrical history (Bates’ dancing took him from black theater to vaudeville in ‘blackface’ to performances before royalty and on television). Barasch’s line-and-watercolor art has an unforced fluidity that recalls Elisha Cooper’s work; Bates is a natty and amiable figure, whose airborne exuberance conveys his love of his art form. This will provide a useful dance counterpoint to all those pink ballet books, and it’s also a lively and capable tribute to an American original.