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Dance the Hora, Isadora

Barbara Bongini
Isadora learns the Hora at her cousin's wedding, then brings her new moves to dance class. A Bank Street College BEST CHILDREN'S BOOK, 2023 Edition
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Dance the Hora, Isado­ra is an exhil­a­rat­ing, dance-filled tale that will leave any read­er eager to fly around a large, open space, syn­chro­niz­ing with oth­ers to a live­ly tune.

At a buoy­ant fam­i­ly wed­ding, Isado­ra, with the help of her spry grand­ma, embraces the hora, a clas­sic Jew­ish dance. Enthu­si­as­tic, she brings the cir­cle dance to her beloved dance class and intro­duces it to her dance teacher and the oth­er students.

With appeal­ing pas­tel and flo­ral illus­tra­tions and an exu­ber­ant sto­ry, Dance the Hora, Isado­ra is a joy­ous and delight­ful book — so much so that it is rec­om­mend­ed to wear danc­ing shoes while reading.  --Helen Weiss Pincus, Jewish Book Council

Dance the Hora, Isadora is a joyful book that captures the delight of dancing the hora at a Jewish wedding. Isadora is a spunky little girl who takes ballet classes. At the end of each class, the students can share a favorite dance. Isadora doesn’t have a special dance of her own, but her grandma tells her that she will have one soon. Isadora knows that her grandma is referring to Cousin Rachel’s wedding, which they’ll both be attending on Sunday.

At the wedding celebration, when the band starts playing Hava Nagila, Grandma makes a space for herself and Isadora in the dance circle. With no time to learn the hora, Isadora is swept along with the others—and so is the reader thanks to the lively language describing the music and dancing. The illustrations exude laughter and joy and make the wedding come alive. Later Grandma teaches Isadora the steps, so she is able to share the hora with her ballet friends.

Isadora has a grand time at the wedding. As the flower girl, she gets to stand under the chuppah. Other Jewish wedding rituals and customs are shown, too. We see the groom smash the glass and the bride and groom lifted up in chairs, all through the eyes of a little girl who witnesses this jubilation for the first time.

The book ends with a “Note to Families” which expands a little more on the Jewish content, making this delightfully engaging book a good candidate for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Whether the child reader has already been to such a wonderful celebration or not, they’ll be glad they were invited to this wedding!    --Arlene Schenker, The Sydney Taylor Shmooze

In Gloria Koster’s new picture book DANCE THE HORA, ISADORA (Apples & Honey Press, 2022) illustrated by Barbara Bongini, young Isadora struggles to find a special dance to share with her peers in dance class. But after participating in her cousin Rachel’s Jewish wedding as a flower girl, Isadora finds inspiration from the traditional celebration and dancing the hora with loved ones, especially with the support of her grandmother. DANCE THE HORA, ISADORA integrates traditional Jewish practices and reminds readers of the importance of individuality.  --Barbara Bietz, Jewish Books for Kids . . . And More!

Young Isadora loves dance but doesn't feel she has a special one to share in class like the other students. That all changes when she and her grandmother attend her cousin Rachel's wedding, and Isadora learns the hora. 

Chloe is our step-dance star. Tap-tap go her toes. Up go her knees, reaching almost as high as her chin.

When Chloe finished her routine last week, I felt Madame's eyes on me. "Isadora, would you like a turn? she asked.

More than anything, I wanted to say yes, but I had nothing to share. If only I could shine like Lucy, Mateo, and Chloe.

On the way home, Grandma could see I needed some cheering up.

"Why such a sad face? she asked.

"Everyone in class has a special dance," I said. "Everyone except me!"

"I have a feeling you may have one very soon," Grandma said, "maybe even this weekend."

I knew she was thinking about the wedding. On Sunday, Cousin Rachel was getting married to Adam.

About the Author

A public and a school librarian, Gloria Koster is a member of the Children’s Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education. Her previous published books include Mitzi’s Mitzvah and Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale, both PJ Library selections. The mother of three adult children and a bunch of energetic grand kids, Gloria enjoys both city and country life, dividing her time between Manhattan and her longtime residence in the small town of Pound Ridge, NY. 

About the Illustrator

Barbara Bongini knew at an early age that she would be an artist, and she has illustrated many picture books. When she's not working, she loves to spend time with her two kids and go to bookstores. She lives in Milan, Italy.

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