Skip to main content

Footwork : The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch, 41 pp, RL 2

Footwork : The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch is yet another fantastic title in the Candlewick Press Biographies series dedicated to telling the true stories of remarkable people, illuminating a "turning point or defining moment in the life of a notable individual in the arts, sciences, or history." I always learn something new, some tidbit that seemingly made the subject the person they became, when I read a Candlewick Biography and Footwork : The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire is no exception. While I knew that Fred Astaire started his career dancing with his sister Adele, I had no idea that she was the star of the show, overshadowing Fred for years, making him the man he became!

Footwork : The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire begins with 4 1/2 year old Fred slipping on a pair of ballet slippers and taking to the floor during his sister Adele's dance class. Showing talent, Fred, Adele and their mother are on a train, leaving Omaha for New York City where the children will go to a special dance school. It's 1905 and Fred is five, Adele is eight. After only a year, Fred and Adele have worked up the Wedding Cake Act, dressed as a tiny bride and groom and dancing on top of wooden wedding cakes. The family "just about lived on steam trains that belched smoke and smelled of hot oil." But, as the children grew older their act began to look a little odd performing this act and the family settled down in New Jersey in 1909. Orgill's story illuminates the struggles that Fred faced, from his awareness that Adele was adorable and he was small for his age and funny looking to his awareness that almost all eyes were on Adele and not him. Because of this, he was constantly driven to improve and perfect the act as well as his skills. In fact, Fred Astaire has been quoted as saying, "Hard work is fun." Success finally finds the siblings again in London in 1923 where the Prince of Wales watches their act ten times! The critics begin to take notice of Fred, not just Adele. However, London is also where the brother and sister act comes to an end in 1932 when Adele, now thirty-five, retires and marries. At this point, the siblings had performed together for almost 30 years!

After that, Fred Astaire heads to Hollywood and the rest, as they say, is history! Fred's career takes a turn down a new road, movies, and his film and television careers span more than thirty years.

As always, there is an index and other great extras in a Candlewick Biography. In Footwork : The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire Orgill provides a full page of Further Reading as well as suggested listening where you have the rare chance to hear Fred and Adele singing together. Orgill also suggests movies to view and websites to visit to enhance the experience, which I plan to enjoy!

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…