Evening is falling, and little Sora the cricket scoots in close to her companions as they begin to sing their nightly chorus. However, Sora is unable to create a song along with everyone else, and Sora's silence is soon noticed by the others. Since the other crickets are convinced Sora's lack of song is due to an absence of an imagination, Sora is directed to venture out into the wider world in search of a song. Along the way, Sora encounters songbirds, fish, and trees who all make music of their own, and each creature enhances Sora's understanding of the sounds they make. Surprising moments lead to an even more wonderful discovery as Sora ultimately returns home once more.
This newest in the Dance It Out Creative Movement series by Once Upon a Dance will quickly become a family favorite. Like the others in the series, this book features a positive and affirming story, vibrant illustrations, and a movement guide for readers to take the book into their own bodies. This tale in particular is one that reminds readers of the power their mind holds, especially when it shouts about being incapable of something. Together with Sora, readers will observe how strength of will and belief in oneself can lead to beautiful outcomes.
The illustrations in this book are among the most captivating of the entire series, especially as they enchantingly capture the essence of the outside world and the colors it contains. The images are expressive and eye-catching, and readers of all ages will find themselves drawn to each page. Written for an elementary school-aged audience, the narrative supports social-emotional learning as well as proprioception and body awareness in an age-appropriate and compelling way. Additionally, Sora is gender flexible, so every reader may find themselves in this approachable character. This is a high quality addition to both the series as a whole and to library collections for young readers.
—Mary Lanni, Indepentdent/Librarian Reviewer
A cricket wants to find her own song and uses the power of imagination in this latest book in the Once Upon a Dance children’s book series.
This ambitious book, geared toward very young readers, once again combines a children’s story and dance guidebook, with lush, detailed, and slightly abstract illustrations taking center stage. The book tells the story of Sora, a cricket, who’s alone among others of their kind chirping away—a “cricket orchestra”—as they can’t find their own song to sing. They embark on a fanciful quest to find the imagination that others say they lack. Every time Sora says they can’t imagine something, the character transforms into that thing, whether it’s a songbird chirping and singing, or a fish making noise with underwater bubbles. Finally, when a threatening creature tells Sora that trees taste terrible, the cricket says, “I can’t imagine it’s as bad as all that” and turns into a tree. Sora realizes that in order to make the transformations stop, they just need to open their eyes; Sora is then a cricket once again but with a vivid imagination and, finally, a song to sing. It’s a lovely story, with a helpful addition: Ballerina Konora is pictured, in photographs by Dan Lao Photography, doing basic dance moves that help illustrate the action and invite readers to participate. For instance, she lifts her arms to mimic diving in water, or stretches her arms and legs to “be” a tree. The movements and noises the ballerina suggests will entice many youngsters to attempt them. The story itself is appealing, although author Herbert’s text seems to play second fiddle to illustrator Partridge’s images. Still, the two create a beautiful world for Sora and their menagerie of friends to live in—and by the time the book is over, readers will probably come up with some dance moves of their own.
A charming children’s book with valuable basic dance lessons on every page.
Sora Searches for a Song from Once Upon a Dance will delight children and adults with its synthesis of story and movement.
Once Upon a Dance features several creative works that combine reading with physical activity, and this book delivers that pairing with gusto. Beginning with a beautiful overview of a marsh, we are introduced to Sora, a little cricket who everyone says has no imagination. In place of imagination, however, this cricket has the remarkable gift of transformation. Sora discovers the ability to turn into living beings like birds and fish, which allows for a greater understanding of the different songs sung by all creatures.
The charming storytelling is paired with two sides of dancing instruction. Ballerina Konora demonstrates a movement in image, and a written description not only explains the motion but also how it relates to the current moment in the story. Konora’s careful instructions are perfect for both visual and auditory learners, as the reader can easily walk their children through the steps.
Sora’s transformations lead to a wonderful gain in confidence that is sure to be mirrored by those who dance along with the story.
With a strong message of celebrating oneself, being open to learning new skills, and finding a place of belonging, Sora Searches for a Song is a book you will read again and again. A worthwhile installment of the wide collection of books from Once Upon a Dance.