In honor of Chicago's Joffrey Ballet naming a new artistic director (see Hedy Weiss' Sun-Times story), I've chosen a book for kids about two dancers — a brother and sister — who rose to fame in the early 20th century.
Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire (Candlewick Press, $17.99) by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch, colorfully tells the story of the Astaire siblings from Omaha, Nebraska...
The book begins with a curious Fred hanging around his older sister's dance class: "One day, while Fred Astaire was waiting for his sister, Adele, to finish dancing class, he saw a pair of ballet shoes in the corner. He put them on and walked on his toes. He was four and a half."
Adele, who was two years older than Fred and considered the more talented of the two, is sent to New York to attend a dance school advertised in the local newspaper. Accompanied by their mother, Fred goes along, too, and the rest is history.
Obviously the book leaves out many details of their story, but it is, after all, a children's book for kids 4-8. If you want to add to your kids' appreciation after breezing through the gracefully illustrated pages, you might head to the computer and put some Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies in your Netflix queue. They'll be dazzled by the dance scenes and, who knows, maybe even inspired to try it themselves.