DANCING WITH DADDY
By: Anitra Rowe Schulte
Illustrated by: Ziyue Chen
Published: December 1, 2021
Publisher: Two Lions
Elsie can’t wait to dance with her daddy, but a snowstorm threatens to cancel their big day. After a day of shopping for the perfect dress, all Elsie can think (and dream) about is her evening of dancing. It’s her first father-daughter dance and she has been practicing her dance moves in her wheelchair. You see, Elsie has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and lives mostly in a wheelchair, and communicates through a book with pictures.
In the story, Elsie’s thoughts are defined with a colored font so readers can imagine what she is thinking even when she can’t verbally express herself. Elsie’s character is based on the author’s own daughter and she hopes this book helps children reading this book understand that kids with different abilities like to do the same kinds of things they do, like going to dances with their daddy.
The illustrations show a happy girl and her sisters excited to go to the dance. When it is just Elsie and her daddy dancing, everyone else disappears, and Elsie realizes this is just as wonderful as she dreamed it would be. Every little girl that dreams of dancing with her daddy, will love seeing the joy on Elsie’s and on the faces of the other girls dancing with their daddies.
It’s rare to find books that write and illustrate with diverse characters and since the author is writing from her own family experience, great care was taken to show the characters accurately. Even down to the ruffles on Elsie’s dress “taking flight” and her frustration with getting her wheelchair stuck in the snow, Elsie is just like any other girl who is excited for a fun evening.
The author includes a note at the beginning explaining Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and her hope for other girls to see a character in a book that is similar to them. It’s also an opportunity for other kids to understand and be willing to get to know a child who might be different from them in their school.
Anitra Rowe Schulte has worked as a journalist for The Kansas City Star and the Sun-Times News Group, as a staff writer for Chicago Public Schools, and as a publicist. She is the mother of three beautiful girls, one of whom has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, and is the inspiration for Elsie in this book. She lives in the Chicago area, and this is her first picture book. Learn more about her at her website, HERE.
Ziyue Chen is the Deaf illustrator of a number of children’s books, including Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk, How Women Won the Vote by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith. She lives with her loved ones in Singapore. Find out more at her website, HERE.