Blog Tour: Eka and the elephants – Once Upon a Dance

*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Blackberry Book Tours.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: GET MOVING with bunnies, elephants, bees, Ballerina Konora, and Eka.

Each Dance-It-Out! story brings movement, joy, breath, connection, and imagination. Ballerina Konora inspires with dance photos and suggestions. In this story, Eka’s family creates a garden, but Eka worries animals may destroy all their hard work. When playful elephants visit, will Eka’s calm quick thinking and problem solving save the vegetables and flowers?

Three books in one: readers can enjoy the story, act it out in their own way, or try Konora’s suggested activities, designed by an award-winning ballet teacher to develop body awareness and practice dance fundamentals.

The Dance-It-Out! collection spans books ideal for kids 3-9, and Eka and the Elephants makes a great series introduction for children 4+. Eka and the Elephants features Eka (no pronouns), Eka’s brother and sister, Koda and Kanoni, and Eka’s parents, along with elephants, bunnies, and bees.

Movement Concepts and Dance Technique in this story:
• Sideways Leap
• Tiptoes
• Forward Stretch
• Jumping
• Squatting
• Relevé
• Bow
• Balance
• Body Part Isolation (Fingers, Thumb, Shoulders, Hips, Nose, Lips, etc.)
• Fine Motor Skills (Pinching, Twisting, Wriggling Fingers, Flat, Clasped, etc.)
• Closed/Expanded Shapes
• Falling
• Rolling
• Stillness/Muscle Deactivation
• Breath In/Out
• Counted Movements
• Quality of Movement (Heavy/Light, Slow/Fast, Jerky/Gently)
• Moving with Emotion (Surprise, Excitement, Fear, Interest, etc.)
• Importance of Healthy Eating and Sleep

Main elements and themes include Elephants, Rabbits, Animal Rescue/Sanctuaries, Bees, Family, Gardening, Pea Plants, Carrots, Sunflowers, Dreams, and Healthy Eating.

This movement journey is ideal for dance, creative movement, physical education, homeschool, preschool, kindergarten, or first-grade activities. The full Dance-It-Out! collection features male, female, ungendered, and nonbinary diverse characters. Dance-it-Out! books make a great gift for boys or girls interested in dance, ballet, gymnastics, or yoga, or reluctant readers who enjoy getting up and being active.

We really enjoyed reading The Grumpy Goat from this series of animal-related dance activity books, and Eka and the Elephants is another great little family story.

The story follows Eka in the real world as she plants and grows vegetables with her family, and in her dreams as she attempts to protect their crops from some mischievous, hungry elephants.

Each page of story has an illustration of the scene described, but also a series of photographed poses performed by Ballerina Konora and a simple description of some actions that can be used to follow the story with your body as you read. These poses and actions are only suggestions though, and once my two had got the hang of what was expected, they went free-range and made whatever movements they imagined best represented the story action, with some uproarious results!

We used the story for family time before bed, with me reading aloud while Mr Shine and the two smaller Shines rampaged around doing the actions. Here’s what they thought:

Mr Shine: The illustrations are really good. And it’s very fun doing the moves. I think it’s a good story and easy for children to understand.

Minishine (10): It IS fun, but I didn’t find it easy at first actually. I found it hard to think what to do and I felt a bit embarrassed. I kept trying though and once I got the hang of it, it got easier. It was a good story and I really liked the baby elephant.

Babybows (7): I liked all the moves and found them easy too! My favourite bit was popping the peas out of their pods. You can’t do that [gesturing at me] because you’re allergic to peas!

Me: Only if I eat them, and not imaginary ones!

Mr S: I liked acting like the elephants rolling around on the floor.

Minishine: I liked hugging Daddy when I was pretending to be a vine.

Babybows: Oooh, same!

Me: Well my favourite was watching you all wiggling trying to do the bees’ waggle dance! Very entertaining.

So another all-round recommendation from us. This is a lovely, simple story, with beautiful and bright illustrations and some great moves to get children’s bodies and imaginations moving!

Purchase Link: Eka and the Elephants on Amazon

About the author

Once Upon a Dance is an award-winning mother-daughter collaboration.

Ballerina Konora climbed the ballet ladder to pro, and she’s thrilled to be living her dreams dancing with Ballet Idaho. Along the way, she danced iconic roles such as Sugar Plum Fairy and Cinderella.

Teacher Terrel taught dance for decades and was honored by her City Council for “embodying the spirit of partnership and commitment to children in our community” for her work with young dancers. She’s breathed ballet from every angle and worked in early childhood education, for non-profits supporting kids, and as a university English teacher as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Once Upon a Dance 2021/2022 Awards: Mom’s Choice Gold Award, Family Choice Award, Royal Dragonfly First Place, PenCraft Award First Place, Firebird First Place, Pinnacle: Best Book Juvenile Fiction, Independent Press Award Winner, International Impact Book Award Winner, Outstanding Creator Awards Winner, Readers Favorite Certified Great Read, Indie’s Today 5-Star Recommended, The Wishing Shelf 5-Star, Literary Titan 5-Star Award.

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