Let's Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!

As early as infancy, children start using their fingers, feet and voices to entertain themselves. As they grow, their games become more elaborate, until playgrounds are lively with jump ropers hopping to the rhythm of "Hot, Hot Pepper," hand clappers chanting "Miss Mary Mack" and dancers choreographing complicated moves.

Teaming up again after their Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning The Dark-Thirty, beloved author Patricia McKissack (Ol' Clip Clop) and two-time Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Brian Pinkney (Martin and Mahalia; Duke Ellington) showcase an exuberant collection of circle games, jump rope rhymes, hand claps, folktales, superstitions, "mama sayings," hymns, spirituals and performance pieces rooted in African American culture. McKissack shares the lyrics--and their historical context--for her own 1950s childhood favorites in Missouri and Tennessee, as well as those she collected by extensively researching other cultures around the world. Today's youngsters will meet folk characters and historical figures through songs and games--new ones as well as variations on old standbys like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "This Glory Train." Older readers will marvel at the history lessons--often grim--embedded in familiar rhymes and stories. In a section on the Underground Railroad, for example, McKissack includes a list of coded words slaves used in songs to share messages about their dangerous escapes.

Pinkney's swirly illustrations in both color and black and white positively dance off the pages, evoking the shaking, shimmying and swinging rampant in these pages. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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