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Cato's Can Can - Book Review

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by May Cross (subscribe)
I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer.
Published January 31st 2022
Spread sunshine and inspiration
This joyous picture book combines two of my passions in life: Australian birdlife and dancing. Cato's Can Can by Juliet M. Sampson is her second children's picture book. It is about a sulphur-crested cockatoo who loves to dance – simple but clever.

Cheeky Cato loves to listen to the radio and dance. He rocks! He also kicks and stomps but, unfortunately, he is all by himself with no dance partner. Then something wonderful happens to him one day when he discovers a dance school. The themes of the book include friendship, courage, loneliness and movement.

Cockatoo Chorus Line (May Cross)

Lots of Aussie native birds feature in this book, beautifully illustrated by Katrina Fisher. Can you spot shelducks, a red-capped robin and a superb fairy-wren? The highlighted dancing birds are the spinning lyrebird, bopping rainbow lorikeets, snapping riflebirds, leaping brolgas, tapping grebes, and hopping satin bowerbirds. Over six days of the week, there are six birds; one to six young dancers in glorious costumes and six dance styles:
Hip hop
And on Sunday, Cato goes to the Dance Studio, makes new friends and learns he can Can Can.

Cato's Can Can, JS Sampson, Katrina Fisher, Ford street Publishing, picture book, dancing , birds, entertainment. cancan, duck, may cross
Dancing Duck by May Cross

I wish that I'd written this book! It is suitable for girls and boys over about 3 years of age. My goddaughter and her sisters love this book as much as I do. I was reminded of the old folk song "The Drover's Dream" in which:

"Some brolgas darted out from the tea-tree all about
And performed a set of Lancers very well…"

By the way, the Clare Lancers Set is one of the most popular dances in the Irish Set Dancing repertoire.)

"…The pelican and the crane, they came in from off the plain
To amuse the company with a Highland Fling."

The Highland Fling is a national dance of Scotland.)

So birds dancing in our wonderful land of Oz is not a new concept after all.

(image from author's website)

About the Author
Juliet M. Sampson is an international award-winning author for young adults and children. She was a primary school teacher for many years, so she certainly knows what stories appeal to kids. Luckily for us readers, she was so successful at writing that she has given up teaching and now writes books full time. Her obvious passion for dance began when she was a child and she is keen to share that joy of dance with others. She has learnt many different dance styles such as ballet, tap, Latin American, jazz, funk and contemporary. Not only has she won awards for her writing, she has won medals for her dancing – in Jive, Cha Cha, Samba, and Paso Doble (a fast-paced, two-person Latin ballroom dance). What a talented person. She also enjoys travel and sketching. Her other books include Grace's Mystery Seed, Outback Wonder, Behind the Mask, Bon Voyage! and Dance Demons.

(image from publisher's website)

About the Illustrator
Katrina Fisher aims to convey a sense of emotion, playfulness and tenderness in her illustrations. All of which are apparent in her gorgeous artwork in Cato's Can Can. She is the perfect choice of illustrator for this book as she had a pet cockatoo called Matilda when she was a child. She enjoys working in traditional media such as watercolours and pencils on paper. She creates images of beauty and finds it highly satisfying when her work resonates with audiences. She had a She studied Fine Art as well as Visual Communication Design at university, and teaches art to primary school children. Her previous books are A House of Mud by Sophie Masson and The Perfect Puppy by Alyce Hall.

Hopping Bower Birds (May Cross)

Teachers' Notes can be found on the Ford Street Publishing website. Curriculum areas include the arts, English maths and science.

Bopping Lorikeet (May Cross)

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Why? for the fun of reading and dancing
Where: Bookshops and online orders
Cost: $16.95 pb; $24.95 hb
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