KidLit TV is honored to reveal the book cover for
THIS IS TAP
Savion Glover Finds His Funk
A bouncing picture book biography of the tap dancer behind the Happy Feet penguin, illustrated by the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Winner of Hidden Figures.
This is a story about tap dancing, a distinctly American art form that blended English-Scottish-Irish clog dancing with African tribal dancing. And it’s about a boy, Savion Glover–who was born to feel the music—to dance and perform and invent. And to delight and awe audiences with the movements of his body.
Soul meets sole.
From that day on, Savion danced.
All the time. Not practicin’. Livin.
’Tippity, tippity, tappity, tappity, TROMP, TROMP, TROMP!
Follow Savion’s journey as beats crescendos into a love of dancing as self-expression. This picture book biography creates music with words and story, and dance with color and composition. Child and parent can read the rhymes and onomatopoeia together while enjoying the bold artwork.
Savion Glover revitalized modern tap dancing with his jazz and hip-hop influenced “free-form hard core” style. From his appearances on Sesame Street and choreographing Happy Feet to his Tony award-winning musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, Savion has inspired a new generation of tap dancers. Read more about his impact on music and dance in the afterword.
Feel the movement with bright, electric art from Laura Freeman, winner Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for Hidden Figures. Hear the music with Selene Castrovilla’s bouncing, bold rhymes. This is Tap! brings Savion’s exuberant story of creativity and passion to young readers.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
• Here’s an Exclusive Interview with Selene and Laura! •
Laura: I love that this book is about a male dancer. Did that fact influence you in choosing Savion as your subject?
Selene: Yes, it was my initial spark. My sons both danced, but the culture we lived in frowned upon them because dancing was considered “for girls.” I’m not sure how this happened– some of our greatest dancers are male! I took my sons to see Savion Glover perform and we were mesmerized. I had read interviews with him about how he always felt a rhythm inside, which he had to express. It hit me: I needed to write a book sharing both his amazing journey and his joy in dance. It celebrates the fact that dancing is for everyone!
Laura: I love how the words have so much rhythm, the words feel like they’re dancing! Can you talk about how you came up with those refrains?
Selene: Word play has been my favorite activity since childhood. I enjoy going through the thesaurus to find words that mean the same thing, but each has its own texture. For example, something that is breakable or delicate might be described as “brittle.” That’s a great word because you can feel how delicate it is. I love looking for the perfect words to describe sounds, movement and emotions. That’s how the idea for the refrains started—from my playing around with words. Time passed, and I woke up with one of the refrain lines clattering through my head. Eureka! Once I had that, I knew how to create them all. A key element was to reimagine word structures, evoking surprising and striking sounds that mimic dancing. It’s so important to embrace the creative process, which is like a flower seed sprouting, growing and blossoming.
Laura: Are you a dance fan or maybe a former dancer? Your words perfectly captured the feel of dancing!
Selene: I am a big dance fan. My aunt was a musician in Broadway musicals when I was a kid, and I got to not only watch dazzling dance numbers but also meet and hang out with the performers. I always loved to dance, and I still dance—but I’ve never been able to master any “traditional” dance moves. I’m more of a free spirit, bounce to the rhythm kind of gal. Once I performed in a mother/sons dance and I kept knocking into my boys, haha. But I shine in my dances with words.
Selene: I’m a fan of your work, and I was thrilled to learn you would be illustrating This is Tap! What made you want to illustrate the book?
Laura: To tell the truth, as soon as I heard who the book was about I was intrigued – I’m a fan of his. Then I read your manuscript and I was absolutely hooked! The words just danced across the page and I knew immediately that I wanted to illustrate it. Thank you for writing it Selene, it was truly a joy to work on, I had so much fun with it!
Selene: I can’t wait for readers to check out your art, which captures the language rhythms and elevates them! Did you know right away how you would illustrate this story, or was it a process of discovery? Would you share some of your process?
Laura: Images were dancing through my imagination from the very first reading and I was so excited about it! I did have a rough idea but of course things would change as I began work and yes, ideas cropped up as I worked. I really love all the poetic refrains that repeat from page to page and I really wanted to highlight them visually and incorporate them into the movement of the illustrations. The star burst shapes behind them and the angling of the text just seemed to fit with the sounds you created and with the movement I wanted the illustrations to have.
Selene: You capture Savion’s joy in dance so vividly! How did you tap into that (pun intended)? Are you a dancer, or a dance aficionado?
Laura: Ha! I love that.. I am a dance (and pun ☺) aficionado! I love all kinds of dance! I took ballet as a kid and my sister took tap. I actually thought for a while that I would be a dancer but eventually reality set in and I realized that I just wasn’t a very good dancer. Better to wiggle and prance around my living room in private – my talents lie elsewhere!