Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SUN DANCE WATER DANCE by Jonathan London


by Jonathan London & illustrated by Greg Couch

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-46682-7
Publisher: Dutton

Luminous art and a lyrical text capture the joys of an incandescent country summer day from bright morning to dusky evening. London (Froggy Eats Out, p. 414, etc.) rapturously begins, “We play in the sun / like a dance / dally in the brilliance / of heat / radiating / off our shining bodies.” His short, singing phrases, some rhyming, some alliterative, completely capture the brief attention span of vacation activities. In the first double-paged spread, Couch (I Know the Moon, p. 50, etc.) expresses the children’s heat-induced elation with a huge shimmering sun covering two-thirds of the pages, sending rays spilling down on the exuberant silhouettes of leaping children. The words and art of these masters elevate the ordinary pleasures of summer—swimming, sunbathing, skipping rocks, catching lizards, watching the night sky—to a hymn. Radiant watercolor and pencil illuminate the “ . . . feel / the chill ripple / down our spines . . . ” with the cool bright green-blue of swirling refreshing water. Bold geometric shapes of swimsuits, solid and translucent, contrast with the natural life of water plants that reach up with flowing, quivering tentacles. Notable is Couch’s freedom with color and line focusing on details such as purple-shadowed feet tip-toeing over zigzagged stones “ . . . the sharp bite / of rocks / like arrowheads . . . ” or a cross-section of young bodies with a drink flowing “ice cold down gullet / Ahhhhhh!” Clever layout particularly shines on the darkening blues of the spread “when the light / fades / and the first star . . . ” The word “star,” with its typeface set in white mirrors, is a lone, tiny, white, five-pointed star placed in the evening sky. A standout. (Picture book. 5-8)