Review Blog

Oct 07 2010

Shake a leg by Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2010. ISBN 9781741758900.
(Age 6-10) Recommended. This is a wonderful picture book that will bring multiculturalism and Aboriginal dancing to life! Three young boys go to a pizza shop in far north Queensland and learn that not only does it sell delicious pizza, but that the Aboriginal owner speaks Italian and has gone to Italy to learn how to make it. As he says, the pizza is 'much more than flour and water and a few tomatoes. It's to do with the song and dance and stories.' From then on he tells a story with bite about a boy who didn't listen and was snapped up by a crocodile and demonstrates the dance that goes with the story. After eating the pizza and having a milkshake, the boys then hear about a stinging bee dance and get to dance a warning dance which ends in shake-a-leg.
I loved the skillful story combination of eating pizza and learning about traditional Aboriginal dances. The story is set up in appealing graphic novel form with pictures in boxes and conversation in balloons. The exuberant drawings and dances will have young children longing to get up and shake-a-leg, and sing out the chorus of 'A-huh A-huh A-huh'.
Jan Ormerod's drawings are wonderful. She brings the both the dances in the pizza parlour and the traditional dances to life. I especially enjoyed the joyous expressions on boys' faces as they stamped their feet.
The whole design of the book is excellent. The endpapers show the rainbow serpent stretching from northern Queensland to Italy on a beautiful map of the world. A map of Australia also features prominently on the title page and has a beautiful pale blue background and desert yellow shades.
Pat Pledger

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