Sarah’s Solo, by Tracy Brown/Illustrated by Paula Wegman, (March 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087504
Sarah is a little girl who’s very disappointed: she must miss her dance recital – where she was going to have a solo! – in order to attend her cousin’s wedding. Sarah dons her recital dress and squirms through the ceremony, but she can’t sit still and pout for long: as she watches the wedding guests dance the hora, she finds her toes tapping to the beat; when her cousin draws Sarah into the circle, the two dance together and Sarah finds herself getting lost in the music: she’s danced her solo after all!
One of the first new releases from Endless Mountain Publishing’s imprint, Kalaniot Books, Sarah’s Solo is a celebration of Jewish culture in one of the happiest settings: a wedding! Kids will empathize with Sarah’s plight: how many times have we made our Kiddos miss out on something they want to do because a family gathering takes precedence? Even watching the other guests dance doesn’t appeal to Sarah at first: the hora is nothing like her elegant ballet routine, after all, but sooner or later, that catchy beat and the good spirits all around her sneak in. She starts tapping her toes, and you just know she’s bopping in her seat. The fun artwork is colorful and shows a diverse crowd enjoying a joyous celebration. The author and illustrator invite readers to enjoy a moment in Jewish culture with a spread illustrating the movements that make up the hora accompanying an explanation of the dance within the context of the story; a spread showing the bride and groom hoisted up on chairs colors everyone except, the bride, groom, and Sarah bathed in shades of background reds, letting Sarah and her cousins be the stars of the spread; something that continues as Lizzy, Sarah’s cousin, invites Sarah to dance with her and allowing Sarah to perform her solo for us, the readers, as well as the wedding guests. Back matter explains Jewish wedding traditions, connecting vocabulary to moments in the story. Blue and white endpapers are a series of line drawings, filled with menorahs, Stars of David, Hands of God, flowers, cups, and musical instruments. Sarah’s Solo is a story to inspire joy.