Dayana, Dax, and The Dancing Dragon by Once Upon a Dance is a story about magic, which can be found in the smallest of places and the simplest of situations. Dayana is an avid ballet dancer; it is her passion. One day, her new baby brother arrives in the world. Dayana is very excited to play and especially dance with her baby brother, but she soon realizes that newborn babies can barely lift their heads, much less stand. Her spirit is a bit crushed by this realization but with perseverance and a lot of love, her brother starts to grow and is increasingly able to sit, crawl, etc. Dayana, whilst watching this growth, shows her brother her ballet dances and positions. Soon enough baby brother Dax is copying her. One day, as Dax plays with his flexible body and says, "goo-goo, gaa-gaa," a dragon appears out of thin air!
Dayana, Dax, and The Dancing Dragon by Once Upon a Dance is an original book. Nowadays, it is quite difficult to be original, but this story achieves it. Apart from the unique story, the structure is extraordinary, especially for children. Every page is accompanied by a set of ballet positions for the reader to perform along with the story; this way children can get a more fun experience out of a book. I have to praise the illustrations by Olha Tkachenko. They are mesmerizing and I spent quite some time admiring them, from the colors to the originality; the dragon is beyond beautiful. I would not be surprised if this becomes a new way of creating books for children. I would have loved to have had books like this when I was a child, to be taught to do the same things the main character did! It's a way to get closer and feel like you are part of the story.
—Readers' Favorite (Carolina Restrepo)
A story for kids about welcoming more kids into the family, dancing, and a dragon!
Dayana loves to dance and was excitedly waiting for her little brother’s arrival to join her as a dance partner. Dax, unfortunately, cannot dance or even stand up yet, but he has a secret up his sleeve – or, more accurately, up his feet 😉 Whenever Dax kicks his feet up in the air and mumbles in his own baby babble, a dragon appears! The dragon dances with Dayana and shows her and Dax images from all around the magical world.
Dayana loves to dance with the dragon and put on a show for Dax until he grows up and becomes capable of joining their performance.
The story is quite fun, it teaches older siblings how to care for and play with the new addition to the family and look forward to enjoying things and having fun together rather than being jealous of them.
The story also comes with dance instructions that go into details for those who want to act the story out exactly as it is, but making up unique dances that just feel right is also encouraged. The dance positions are created by a professional ballet teacher and can be used to teach kids the fundamentals of dance moves.
The artwork is also quite charming.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a new children’s book.
—Reedsy (Fatima Aladdin)
Babies are cute and cuddly, but can they do more than just lay around? Dayana is thrilled when her baby brother, Dax, finally arrives. However, when Dayana discovers that Dax cannot yet participate in Dayana’s favorite activity—dancing—she becomes disappointed. One day, Dax is laying on his back with his feet in the air and, before Dayana’s very eyes, summons a friendly dragon named Kadeena. To Dayana’s delight, Kadeena loves to dance, and the two enjoy discovering new movements together as their friendship grows.
This latest in the Dance-it-Out! creative movement series by Once Upon a Dance features a female dancer with tanned skin and a non-binary dragon, which is an inclusive shift for this collection. A note from Ballerina Konora at the beginning invites all readers to participate in the story, and the visuals in this book reinforce that message. Following that, the story is subdivided into three sections: a large illustration, the narrative of the story, and movement suggestions to enhance the narrative.
Each of the books in this series is illustrated by a different person, giving a unique visual quality to each installment. This book features whimsical shades of pink and purple as Kadeena becomes a part of Dayana’s life. Detailed and expressive images enhance the depth of the relationship these three characters share, giving readers the opportunity to discover more with each subsequent reading.
Written for an elementary school-aged audience, the text in this story is presented in paragraphs made up of simple, direct sentences. The narrative is straightforward and inspires imaginative considerations through its storytelling. Below the narrative is a textual invitation to move with the story, incorporating each character’s individual style. Photographs of Ballerina Konora depict the movements and encourage participation and independent discovery.
Whether read in its entirety or one piece at a time, this book is another delightful addition to the Once Upon a Dance canon. Readers familiar with the other books will happily add this one to their collection, as will new readers who enjoy the mystery and excitement of imagining dragons, castles, and unicorns appearing in an otherwise ordinary world. Children who love to dance and move will look forward to interacting with each new character in these unique stories.
—Mary Lanni, Independent/Librarian Reviewer