¡Olé! Flamenco, a children’s nonfiction book, about the artistic origins of a cultural tradition of song, music, and dance, sings a story that has travelled intensely, played with the young and old, and moved not only the feet of those that venture to create such emotional footwork but those that accompany the dancer with potent palmas, hand claps. George Ancona, author and photographer, has initiated a curiosity for the historical, oral tradition of flamenco. The human essence of this tradition, passed down through generations across the globe, is apparent in Ancona’s photography and storytelling. Its photography is vivid and expressive, as its story is captivating and eloquent. So much so that its readers are motivated to experience the tradition in every form, whether as a cantaor, a palmero, a bailaor zapateando, or a tocaor rasgueando on a flamenco guitar or striking the cajón.
A lone apprehension, the book’s case cover. The front cover is not inviting and as enticing and attractive as Ancona’s photography and expressions within. A fear that such a genuine tradition would be missed due to its packaging is real. Children do, alas, judge a book by its cover, pending their development into perceptive readers. The young bailaores, beautifully dressed and poised, are set before a pale yellowish background that dulls their significance. The title’s vibrant color is subdued by this pallor rather than allow the mesmerizing attention that flamenco commands.
By and large, a book worthy of notice and experience for its historical and cultural tradition.
By George Ancona
Lee & Low Books
$19.95 | Hardcover
Ages 7 to 11