Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Footloose by Kenny Loggins, Dean Pitchford and Tim Bowers (Moondance Publishing)

There are certain songs that cause spontaneous dance-offs at ReadItDaddy Towers...
Poor Charlotte has grown up with a very odd mix of music tastes being forced on her by her completely unforgiving parents.

From Mum's side a hectic mix of non-stop dance anthems, Take That and bit of Adele for light relief.

From Dad's side a complete education in 80s music so it's probably my fault that Charlotte already knew Kenny Loggins' utter classic "Footloose".

Someone (Kenny himself, allegedly with Dean Pitchford the original movie's creator) came up with the idea of basing a new children's picture book around the song. Not the movie, we must quickly point out - that might be a bit racy for younger readers but the song's effervescent catchiness spun and folded into a story introducing Zoo Keeper Jack and a whole crew of insanely talented animals who sure know how to cut a rug.

There's rockin' chimp Louise, DJ Elephant, Marie the Lemur and a huge supporting cast of animal characters and if there's one thing we'd have to agree on, it's that Tim Bowers' illustrations are utterly fantastic, imaginative and energetic - full of fun and inventiveness.

I hate writing negative reviews but this book just didn't work for us. The song is great, Kenny and Dean's heartfelt sentiment behind the creation of the book feels genuine but it really just felt like something was wrong when trying to read it aloud with Charlotte. It felt like pushing a piano downstairs, listening to the disjointed crashing and tinkling as you tried to maintain some sort of a reading "flow".

Trying to fit the song lyrics to characters (cleaning up or changing a few in the process from the original song) was a fairly good idea but what point is there in producing a children's story book if you can't read it with the same flow and energy as the song that inspired it?

Taken at face value as an entertaining animal story, it works - sort of - but we still couldn't shake that disjointedness and why it felt like something so fizzing with energy had a gigantic barnacle-encrusted anchor tied to its ankle before being pitched off the end of a pier into the deep briny blue.

Younger children will really love it though, regardless of our slight grumpiness about it. Capering animals and cool dance moves should hopefully mean it's a bit of a bum-wiggling pre-bedtime favourite. Give it a try if you like the sound of it and if nothing else, crack out the CD tucked inside the back cover and break out your very best dance moves regardless.

"Footloose" is released today, 18th October 2016, published by Moondance Publishing. 

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