John’s Turn

Candlewick. Mar. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536203950.
K-Gr 2–It is left to readers to intuit the source of John’s stage fright in this heartwarming school story. A spunky child’s voice explains about Friday assembly and Sharing Gifts time, when one student gets to perform for the whole school. Today it is John’s turn. When the blue curtain opens, John, in his white leotard, black pants, and slippers, could not look more apprehensive. His expression barely changes through his first steps to the music, but then, after a graceful leap that spans two pages, John begins to dance with confidence and joy. He scissors his legs, spins, and soars with pointed toes and arms outstretched until the music stops. His worried eyebrows are gone, and there is a small smile on his lips. Then it is everybody else’s turn…to clap. The child narrator and the loose line of the ink and paint illustrations capture the wiggly ambience of an elementary school assembly. The spreads over which John dances in a world of his own need no words and practically summon the music he is dancing to.
VERDICT A charming affirmation of believing in oneself and of recognizing the heartfelt talents of others.

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