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donnaodonnellfigurski.com - JOSE BORN TO DANCE
JOSÉ! Born To Dance
JOSÉ! Born To Dance

JOSÉ! Born To Dance
written by Susanna Reich
illustrated by Raúl Colón
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
ISBN: 0-689-86576-7
Ages 5-8

José Limón was born to dance and like the CHIC recording of the late 1970s, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE, José did! Of course, Limón, born in Mexico in 1908 wasn't dancing the latest disco craze nor was he swaying to the more recent country song by Lee Ann Womack, I HOPE YOU DANCE. His dream wasn't realized until many years later when dance, dance, dance, became José's life, love, and passion.

As a child José dreamt of bullfighting. He dreamt of drawing and painting. His spirits soared as his fingers flew over the keys of his piano, yet his dreams remained out of reach and wanting. As a young man José left his childhood home in Los Angeles and set off for New York City, a city of hope and opportunity. He was filled with dreams of becoming a great artist. But night after day José scooped ashes and he hauled garbage and day after night he wandered museums studying the masters, Manet, Renoir, and Picasso, and he wondered what he could offer and again his dreams went unfulfilled. Then, José found himself at a dance concert and the fire in his soul was unleashed as he watched the dancers twirl on the stage, twisting and leaping through the air. José's passion for dance was unleashed, too and he went on to become one of the twentieth centuries greatest dancers and choreographers. Still today, José Limón's dream lives on in the dance studio that he founded, The José Limón Institute, located in New York City, which welcomes other dancers with dreams and passions of their own . . . yet to be fulfilled.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“This book is about a boy named José who wanted to grow up and be an artist because he loved art and he drew great, colorful, pictures,” said Ethan.

“He also dreamt about fighting the bulls,” said Becky.

“And he wanted to learn to dance,” said Anya.

“But then when José was five years old, a civil war broke out in Mexico,” said Philippe.

“Scary!!!” said Sarit

“And his town was invaded,” said Ethan.

“It must have been really scary,” said Sarit, “when the soldiers attacked.” She shivered. “If I were in that situation, I would stay under my blanket all day and all night.”

Becky nodded.

“Then José had to leave home,” said Ethan.

“Yeah,” said Sarit. “He was forced out of his country by the Civil War.”

“He lived somewhere by the border for a few years with his family until his dad got a job,” said Ethan, “And when he did, they moved somewhere . . .”

“. . . in California,” interrupted Jake.

“When José was in a school in the United States, the children laughed at his poor English,” said Philippe.

“Yeah, but in three years he could speak,” said Becky.

“Then his mother got sick,” said Jake, “and died!”

“It must have been hard for José,” said Sarit shaking her head. “With his mom dead, he had a struggling life.”

“It kind of makes me feel fortunate that I have a home and that I don’t have to keep moving,” said Jake.

Ethan looked rather pensive. “It does make you think,” he said. “I mean it’s sad -- all of the tragedy that happened.”

“I wonder what it would feel like if all these things were happening to you?” asked Jake.

“I think that it’s something that you cannot explain in words,” mused Anya.

“But, you can tell how José feels by the things that he does to help himself,” said Pritka.

“When he found out that he wasn’t in the right place for art,” said Ethan, “He decided to go into the dancing business. He became the best dancer he could have been.”

“Right!” said Jake. “The good thing about José was he kept up his courage. He never lost his strength. He was a hopeful kind of guy, like . . . he wasn’t a person who would give up on his dreams. He stuck to it . . . even though he got stage fright and had bad dreams . . . he stuck to it!”

“Yeah, Jake, that’s right,” agreed Ethan. “Because no matter what happened, José wanted to follow his dream. He had his heart set on learning to dance. And that’s what he did!

“Sometimes you may have to go through many careers to find a job that you really like,” said Pritka.

Jake nodded. “And sometimes you just have to search for it . . . and you have to be patient.”


ECHo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Language Arts

Bam!, Ole!, Trillia-Weet!, AIEEEEE! What do all of these words have in common? They are echoic words. The Merriman-Webster Online dictionary says echoic words are words that imitate a natural sound, like an echo. You can hear echoic words all day long if you listen closely . . . well, maybe not those particular words, but how about these?
Whoosh! Zip! Screech! Thump! Crash! Hiss! Fizz! Ribbet! Croak!
Your class will love to “dream” up a million more echoic words and they will be Buzzzzzzzzing with excitement during this lesson.

Have the Kiddles brain storm as many echoic words that they can think of. Start with the ones above. Make a list on a chart tablet. Keep the list handy so words can always be added.
When you have an ample supply of words.
Type the words into a computer program in large font and copy a page for each Kiddle.
Give each Kiddle a supply of 2” by 4” colored-construction paper strips with a hole punched in the upper left hand corner of each strip.
Have the Kiddles cut out the words and glue them onto the construction paper strips.
Then put the strips onto a 1” ring.
Kiddles can flip through these words to learn to read and spell them, and they can use them to liven up any writing projects they are involved in.

FOLLOW YOUR DREAM - JOSÉ DID Language Arts /Writing/Social Studies

The old Doris Day song of the 50’s says, “Que sera, sera! Whatever will be, will be . . .” and I guess that is true enough, but I can’t help but wonder, and I bet you do too, what the future will bring? I know Kiddles dream about what they will be when they grow up. They dream about being cowboys or bullfighters, astronauts, racecar drivers, ballerinas or nurses. They dream about being mommies and daddies and having a million Kiddles just like themselves. Scary thought! Just kidding! But, it’s never too early to begin thinking and planning for the future. So, why not let your Kiddles start today?

Give your class talk-time. Make groups of three or four Kiddles and let them talk, talk, talk, about what they want to be when they grow up. Encourage them to give reasons why they want to be whatever they want to be. Then move from group to group and listen in. When everyone seems to have enough ideas, pass out paper to each one and ask them to write a short paragraph, three to five sentences, about what they want to be when they grow up and why. Allow about twenty to thirty minutes, then meet back in full group and have the children read their paragraphs to their classmates. Although, “The future’s not ours to see,” it will be fun to take a teeny glimpse into the dreams of your Kiddles.

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Lucky Dip (a-z of Dance)
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood . . . Parent's & Teachers

Shadow Dancing
Dancing to Music


Amelia Earhart More Than A Flier by Patricia Lakin, illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier
HONK by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Henry Cole
Dumpy La Rue by Elizabeth Winthrop, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
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