Monday, March 2, 2009

Maryann Cocca-Leffler: My Dance Recital

Sigh...I wish My Dance Recital had been around when I was taking ballet and tap as a young child. I would have studied every detail of this book, over and over . . . and over again.

Each of its twelve interior pages is interactive, beginning with Mom and daughter heading for the recital. Between them, they're carrying a duffel bag, snack box, and hanging costume bag. Flaps on each lift to reveal what's inside. Next, we see the young girl-narrator in the hair/make-up chair. A rotating wheel allows us to see her in various stages of preparation for tonight's recital: hair straight, hair in rollers, curly hair, and best of all--curly hair with a crown. How fun! We open doors to see them getting costumed, then there's practice time, another group performs, and finally, the narrator performs:

We go onstage. The music starts.
I remember all my steps. I do a twirl...

With the action of opening this spread, a length of thread winds and unwinds around a 'spool' causing the narrator to actually twirl! I like the reassurance the text offers to readers here--that this young dancer remembers her steps on her big night. On the last spread, the narrator wears a lovely pink fabric-net tutu as she takes her final bow on the last spread. Maryann has beautifully captured the primary phases of a dance recital in this book that will delight young girls. Bravo!

A readertotz Exclusive -- Inside Scoop from Maryann Cocca-Leffler:

My inspiration for My Dance Recital came as I waited for my own daughter, Kristin, to perform at her dance recital. I sat for hours watching dancers flutter across the stage. I especially enjoyed the spontaneity of the tiny dancers, (when the audience were never sure what would happen next.) On this night, six fairy ballerinas prepared to come on stage. From behind the curtain the audience could hear crying, “Daddy, I can’t!” When the curtain opened there were six small dancers dressed in pink along with one large dad doing all the steps. The audience was in hysterics. (What we do for our kids!). I then shuttled backstage to help keep the dancers on task. It dawned on me that a Dance Recital is monumental occasion filled with make-up, costumes, laughter, nerves and lots of backstage waiting, not to mention unpredictable moments. I realized that the Recital event would make a great subject for a book.

Back in my studio, I began sketching. About the same time, I saw a blurb in the SCBWI Newsletter introducing a new novelty pop-up line at Random House called “Robin Corey Books”. I thought that the action of a dance recital would certainly make an interesting interactive book. I emailed Robin and told her my idea and asked if she might be interested. She said yes. Now it was time to get my idea into dummy form, so I could show Robin how I perceived the book. Having never done a pop-up, flap book before, I visited my local bookstore and “played” with all the interactive books, looking closely at the paper engineering. It became apparent that my dummy would be a very poor prototype. Robin assured me that if I can express what I wanted the book to do, a REAL paper engineer would make it happen. (That was a relief, seeing that I wanted my ballerina to spin!)

There were many steps between submitting the dummy and the printed book including, writing the text, sketches and finished art. Not to mention the back-and-forth’s with my art director and paper engineer to tweak the flaps and pop-ups. Now finally, My Dance Recital has hit the “stage”. Enjoy the performance!

My Dance Recital
Maryann Cocca-Leffler, author-illustrator
Random House, 2009
(Robin Corey Books)

~ Joan Holub, author


Lorie Ann Grover said...

This is adorable, Joan! Awesome to read the interview. Thanks for bringing extra to our totz!

ChatRabbit said...

I'm so looking forward to seeing this book! Thanks for such a great inside look.

Joan Holub said...

Hi Liz (ChatRabbit)! Thanks for stopping by. I love your new website. It's beautiful.

Phyllis Harris said...

I am so excited to find your blog! Thank you for all the inside scoop! I will be stopping by often.

I'm really happy for Maryann and wishing her the best on the success of this book.

I only wish I'd had this 17 years earlier for our daughter!

Unknown said...

What a great idea, twirling dancers in a pop-up! Love the behind-the-scenes info about how the book was created.

Little Willow said...

How cute! I love the extra info and pictures from the author.