Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Sparks Fly High: The Legend of Dancing Point

Sparks Fly High: The Legend of Dancing Point

Mary Quattlebaum
Illustrator:  Leonid Gore 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006   ISBN: 978-0374344528

When he was baby Colonel Lightfoot “was born with quicksilver feet.” His dancing was the talk of the neighborhood and he got better and better as he grew up. Unfortunately his pride also grew until his self importance and arrogance was quite insufferable. In addition to his own dancing Colonel Lightfoot also loved “his fine Virginia land.” The land Colonel Lightfoot personally owned was a dreadfully marshy boggy place which, it was said, was inhabited by the devil. To make matters worse, the bogginess was growing, a fact which was of great concern to the angels.

One night Colonel Lightfoot got himself dressed up to go to a ball but when he went outside his clothes were damaged by sparks that the devil had sent hissing through air. Furious at what had happened to his clothes, Colonel Lightfoot decided that the time had come to confront the devil. When he got to the swamp the Colonel demanded that the devil should get off his land and in response the devil challenged him to a dancing duel.

And so the two danced for hours and hours and hours and the Colonel got more and more tired. He was going to have to do something soon because if he didn’t, this was a contest he was sure to lose.

In this delightful retelling of a classic Virginia tale, Mary Quattlebaum gives both of her main characters wonderfully colorful personalities. Using delightful language and beautifully complimented by Leonid Gore’s stunning acrylic and pastel illustrations, this is a picture book which readers will want to read out loud again and again.

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