Cover image for Brothers of the knight
Brothers of the knight
Allen, Debbie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
In this contemporary retelling of the fairy tale "Twelve Dancing Princesses, " an African-American reverend in Harlem endeavors to discover why the shoes of his twelve sons are worn to pieces every morning.
Reading Level:
560 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.5 0.5 43483.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.4 2 Quiz: 24229 Guided reading level: P.
Added Author:
Added Uniform Title:
Twelve dancing princesses.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.A4167 BR 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.A4167 BR 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.A4167 BR 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

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I live with Reverend Knight and his twelve sons. Every morning those boys' shoes are worn to threads, though they claim to have slept all night. And who do you think gets the blame for twenty-four ruined shoes? Me -- the dog! All right, all right, so I chew one up every once in a while -- but not twenty-four at a time. No, those boys are up to something...and they aren't telling their father.

Luckily, Reverend's got a new housekeeper. Her name is Sunday, her voice is like a song-bird's, and her biscuits are slap yo'self good. . . . But can Sunday use her sweet magic to bring the Knight family together?

In this modern, hip retelling of the classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, actress and choreographer Debbie Allen proves herself to be a storyteller extraordinaire. Rising young artist Kadir Nelson's brilliant artwork bursts with color, richness, and energy. Together they have created a high-stepping story about twelve brothers who will dance their way into your heart.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. There have been retellings of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" before, but nothing like this. Choreographer Allen has taken the story and turned it inside out, upside down. First of all, the 12 dancers are guys, not girls, the sons of the Reverend Mr. Knight who lives in Harlem. The family dog, Happy, relates the story of how the brothers sneak out each night and return every morning with shoes "worn to threads, messed up, torn up, stinky, dirty, jacked up." The hip, funky tone is continued throughout as Rev hires a new housekeeper, Sweet Sunday. She whips the boys into shape, and her ability to turn invisible allows her to learn their secret: they go to a ballroom and dance each night away. A few twists and turns lead to the revelation that Reverend Knight was a dancer in his day and a happy conclusion that brings Sunday into the family. The snappy text is matched by Nelson's high-energy pictures, which are reminiscent of Trina Schart Hyman's work. The pencil drawings were photocopied and then painted with oils; perhaps it was the process, but some of the art has a dull patina. That's too bad because the visuals themselves are bursting with life. A fun, contemporary twist on a classic. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Twelve Dancing Princesses have nothin' on the 12 sons of Reverend Knight, a Harlem preacher. Narrating the tale in a chatty if somewhat rambling voice, the family dog, Happy, explains that this man "raised his sons with a firm, loving hand... but a lot was goin' on that couldn't be explained." Actress, choreographer and producer Allen gives a familiar tale a hip spin as the brothers dance each night from one roof to the next to reach the Big Band Ballroom. There they swing till dawn, returning home with shoes "worn to threads, messed up, torn up, stinky, dirty, tacky, jacked up." Sunday, a sharp, attractive housekeeper with magical powers, discovers the siblings' secret, but she keeps mum, waiting instead until the kids themselves are ready to 'fess up to their dad. They don't and she quits, but all ends happily. Successfully capturing the energy of the swirling, twirling nighttime revelers, first-time children's book artist Nelson's sepia-toned illustrations possess the precision of line accorded to pen-and-inks, filled out with a full palette of oil paints. He's equally adept with the interiors of the church as with rooftop scenes of the boys whooping it up under starlit skies. A funky, fresh adaptation. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-A spin-off of the Grimm tale, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," this is the story of Preacher Knight and his attempts to solve the mystery of the worn-out sneakers he finds in his sons' room each morning. Believing that their father would not approve of their clandestine dancing at the Big Band Ballroom, the 12 boys refuse to confide in him. Only when the ingenious housekeeper, Sunday, attempts to reveal the brothers' secret is Reverend Knight's own predilection for dancing disclosed and the family-along with the bewitching Sunday-reconciled. The setting for Allen's fresh imagining is "a little village called Harlem." Her hip text is given spark and personality through the use of contemporary dialect: Sunday's cookies " were jump up and down, slap yo' own self in the face good!" The humor of the story is heightened by the artwork. Nelson's pencil drawings were photocopied and then painted in oils, producing a fine line, minutely detailed characters and settings, and expressively lit coloration. The strutting, high-stepping brothers are full of individuality, attitude, and movement. Text is boxed with old frayed sneakers and laces. Few elements of the Grimm tale remain, except the worn shoes, the illicit dancing, the outsider who solves the mystery, and the cloak of invisibility. However, new elements, such as the gender change and the brothers' motivation for secrecy, fit neatly. The choice of the family dog as narrator is the only false note. His expository remarks, though humorous, sometimes interrupt the flow. Still, don't let this small flaw keep this original title off your dance card.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.