Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review - Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown by Eric Litwin and Tom Lichtenheld

I am always happy to get a new title from Eric Litwin in my hands, but sad that this time I did not have time to interview him. (Beginning bloggers, Litwin is one of the easiest people in the world to interview! Just set up a tape recorder and let him start talking: you'll never be able to keep up taking notes by hand!) If you would like to check out some earlier interviews with him, all about early literacy and working with Lichtenheld, click here and here.


Groovy Joe first appeared with Ice Cream and Dinosaurs, which has quickly become one of our story time staples. I even used it in a recent workshop for reading mentors, as an example of giving kids a chance to participate and predict during a read-aloud. Dance Party Countdown continues with the same predictable (in a good way!) patterns, catchy phrases, and a danceable refrain (In disco style this time! Bonus, I can show off my moves!)

New to this title is the inclusion of a little math. The size of the crowd keeps doubling, but does that upset Joe? If you have read the first title, you know the answer to that! We also have the appearance of various musical instruments. Not sure I've ever seen a tuba used in disco music, but, to each his own! 

Lichtenheld's whimsy is again a perfect match to Litwin's sense of fun. The chipmunk in shades is back, and doggie band members range from an Elvis-like dalmatian to dachshund in a beret, all clearly having a great time.

A fun extension would be to have the kids name the pictured instruments they know, and look up the others. Have a musical instrument tasting party, where kids can hear the sounds each one makes and see how they are played. What type of music might include a tuba? A cello? An electric guitar? Play different types of music and see what instruments kids can pick out. I see this one getting a lot of mileage in the 2018 summer reading program, "Libraries Rock"!

The math of course offers more extensions. How far can your kids go in doubling the numbers? Try out the old story of the man who agrees to work for a penny on his first day, 2 cents the next, 4 cents the third, and so forth - how much would he have made in a week? A month? A year?

You'll want at least one copy of this one, probably more if you are going with the music theme this summer!

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