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Baby Dance: 09/13/09

Our local library has a nice selection of board books in each reach for young children to pick from. I love seeing what Harriet will choose when we go for our weekly trip to the library. Among her recent picks is Baby Dance from a poem by Ann Taylor (1782-1866) and illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden.

For the book, the poem has been oddly edited to remove the mother from the story. She's still shown as part of the family but the moment of playful dance between mother and baby moves to a father and baby instead.

The father and baby are clearly happy and it's nice to expose Harriet to families of different backgrounds than her own. It's refreshing to see people in a board book about families instead of the usual collection of overly cute animals.

What does bother me though is the choice to edit the poem. Fathers have certainly gotten short shrift in books aimed at young children. Unfortunately for this book, a perfectly delightful (albeit old) poem has its rhyme and meter slaughtered to bring a father to the foreground. Why not hire a living poet to write an update in homage to Ann Taylor's poem?

Original poem:

The Baby's Dance

DANCE, little baby, dance up high:
Never mind, baby, mother is by;
Crow and caper, caper and crow,
There, little baby, there you go;
Up to the ceiling, down to the ground,
Backwards and forwards, round and round:
Then dance, little baby, and mother shall sing,
While the gay merry coral goes ding-a-ding, ding.

Taylor, Jane & Taylor, Ann. Little Ann and Other Poems. London, New York: George Routledge & Sons, 1883. p. 48. (Source)

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