Cover image for Dancing the Ring Shout!
Dancing the Ring Shout!
Siegelson, Kim L.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Jump at the Sun, Hyperion Books for Children, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
It is the first year that Toby is old enough to attend the Ring Shout, a celebration when the hard work of harvest is done, but he cannot find an object that makes a noise which will speak from his heart to God's ears.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.4 0.5 75091.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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It is the last day of the harvest, and everyone at Appling Farm is preparing for the ring shout-a celebration filled with dance, song, and praise shouted out to God for the year's blessings. Everyone in Toby's family will play an instrument that speaks from their hearts directly to God's ears. Toby is finally old enough to join them in the event, but what will he bring? Sticks? A cowbell? Horse brushes? It's hard to decide, for it must feel right. And Toby's got to hurry-the ring shout starts tonight! Dancing the Ring Shout! is the first picture book honoring the longstanding ring shout tradition from west Africa and the American South. Heartfelt and beautifully told in a rainbow of colors that swirl like magic, this story is one to cherish all the year round.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS-Gr. 3. In previous books, such as In the Time of the Drums (1999), about the Underground Railroad, Siegelson has proved herself a master at whipping historic events into delectable tidbits, especially for finicky youngsters who are still refining their literary palates. In this book, she introduces the sacred tradition of ring shouts, a call-and-response style of song and controlled movement passed down through the years from enslaved Africans in the U.S. Young Toby is finally old enough to join his family in the celebratory "circle" for the ring shout, but he can't seem to find an instrument "that would speak from his heart to God's ears." Pap has a drum to make music; Grand has a cane to tap; Pearl has a gourd to shake. What should Toby bring? When the time comes, he finds the answer that's just right for him. An author's note gives background on the tradition, and selected sources are listed on the verso of the title page. Cohen's unfussy art is a joyous compliment, making the most of flat, bright colors--orange, red, green, purple--as it lends a wonderful down-home quality to the story. --Terry Glover Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Siegelson's (In the Time of the Drum) lyrical, effectively repetitious story centers on an African-American boy in the rural south who is finally old enough to participate in the "ring shout" song and dance ritual marking the end of harvest. Toby's grandfather instructs him to bring something "to play along with the singing.... Something that speaks from your heart straight to the ears of God." The baffled boy queries members of his family and learns what they are bringing (his grandfather takes a cane to pound on the ground, his father brings a hoop drum, etc.) and how its sound correlates to a specific gift from nature (e.g., the sound of the cane emulates the "hooves of our plow mule" that break ground in the spring-"I give praise for our mule," says his grandfather). After trying out various objects, Toby arrives at the ring shout empty-handed, yet soon discovers a way to demonstrate his gratitude. From the opening sentence ("On the last day of the harvest year, the sun rose fat and warm as a hoecake over Appling Farm"), Siegelson fills her smooth narrative with strong imagery. Simplicity marks Cohen's (The Blues Singers) striking paintings, which layer solid colors to create almost a collage effect. She builds a sense of drama with shocks of vibrant color against muted, deeply toned backdrops. Swirling arrangement of type reinforces the energy and rhythm of the ceremony (the history of which the author explains in a concluding note). A warm celebration of an uplifting tradition. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-It is the last day of harvest at the Appling Farm, and there is soon to be a celebration, or "ring shout," to rejoice in the year's blessings. According to Grand, everyone will be bringing something that speaks, "from your heart straight to the ears of God." Grand is bringing his cane because, "When I pound it on the ground, it sounds like the hooves of our plow mule that breaks dirt open in spring. I give praise for our mule." Pap, Mam, and Pearl are all taking things for their own special reasons. Toby is troubled. He is now old enough to join in the festivities, but he doesn't know what to contribute. Cohen's use of complementary colors over full spreads results in illustrations that are vibrant and eye-catching. Siegelson is to be commended for introducing children to this African-American tradition, but the story is less than compelling and some readers and listeners may lose interest before the end of the book. In the author's note (but not evidenced in the story), Siegelson comments that a ring shout incorporates a call-and-response style. While not a first purchase, the book will serve libraries looking for material on this tradition or celebrations that incorporate that idea of gratitude or praise.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.