Picture this: The South of France, many years ago. An award-winning American photo-journalist travels with his trusty camera to see the annual gathering of the people called Gypsies. There he watches dancers stamp their feet, clap their hands, and move their bodies to beautiful guitar music as they dance the dramatic flamenco. He thinks, Why not share this beauty? So he raises his camera and begins to photograph…and the rest, as they say, is history.
The moment you open author George Ancona’s latest book, Ole! Flamenco, you are dropped in the middle of the most vibrant, rhythmic world you’ve ever encountered: The world of Flamenco. In fact, you can almost hear the foot-stomping and hand-clapping as you turn the pages, drink in the astonishing photographs, and read about eager students of flamenco and their tireless routines and rehearsals.
Ancona’s talent for story is not hidden in this nonfiction picture book. The reader is never bored as Ancona meticulously explains the parts that make flamenco (song, dance and music), who dances the flamenco, where these people came from, and how their mixture with and influence over other peoples (Moors, Egyptians, North Africans, etc.) helped flamenco evolve into the passionate dance it is today.
As I’m sure you can tell, I greatly enjoyed this book. What I love most is that instead of perpetuating the mystery of this passionate dance and the people who dance it, Ancona invites readers from other cultures–-as unrhythmic as they may be–-to dare to learn this beautiful dance part-by-part, step-by-step; from zapateado (footwork) to palmas (hand-clapping) to rasgueado (a rapid strumming of the flamenco guitar, unique to flamenco).
For a clever book that is part history, part fun and part eye-popping picture-book, be sure to read Ole! Flamenco, by George Ancona. In fact, why not add it to your personal, professional or educational library? You’ll be glad you did.
Best wishes, happy writing, and…Ole!
Picture Book Depot