On Prancing and Dancing and Cows Named Lily

When my daughter saw her name splashed across the cover of this book, she insisted we pick it up. Convinced there is but one Lily in the world, she couldn’t wait to get home and see how the illustrator had chosen to portray her. Nevermind that there is a cow featured prominently in the center of the art. Nevermind that this cow is clearly both prancing and dancing, as is referred to in the title. Nevermind that there isn’t a curly-haired, chubby-cheeked little squirt anywhere to be found in the entire book. It was about HER. So after my sweet, self-centered-as-all-three-year-olds-are, little girl got over her disappointment, she fell in love with THIS Lily…the independent, adventurous, dance-until-her-hooves-ache star of this captivating book, PRANCING DANCING LILY.


    • Published by: Dial (March 30, 2004)
    • Suitable for: Ages 4 and up
    • Topics/Themes: Individuality, Being Different, Independence, Self-Acceptance
    • Opening: “‘Come on in, Rose! Milking time!’ Farmer Gibson called across the pasture. Clang-a-lang. Clang-a-lang. All the cows fell in behind Rose. Except for Lily. Prancing, dancing Lily.”
    • Synopsis:(from the jacketflap) The cows in Lily’s herd are always dignified as they walk from the barn to the pasture.  But Lily would much rather prance and dance!  One day Lily decides to leave the farm and venture out on her own.All over the world-from New York City to Spain to Senegal-Lily learns new dances and makes wonderful friends.  But none of the dances are quite right for a cow, and soon Lily starts to miss home.  Will she ever find a place where she fits in?
    • Links to Resources: Marsha Diane Arnold has a number of suggested activities on her website. Kids can learn to write rhymes and make cow puppets, as well as design their own bookmarks. When I read this book with my kids, it always ends in some display of creative dancing. And I don’t want to give away the clever ending, but let’s just say that the last dance the cows do always requires the whole family to jump in for a demonstration!
    • Why I Like this Book: I just love the strength of the Lily character in this book. She recognizes that she is different from the herd, and isn’t afraid to explore those differences. The lovely Marsha Diane Arnold (side note: if you are in the kidlit world and have not had the chance to interact with her yet, you are missing out! She really is lovely) handles an important message in a witty, fun, and sometimes silly way. Lily goes off on her adventure and in the process recognizes that what was identified in the herd as weakness really could be a strength. She refines that unique “something” about herself and brings it back home in a way that benefits everyone. Okay, and a cow that belly-dances? How could you not love that?

Please take a moment to visit the blog of the also lovely Susanna Leonard Hill, the host of the wonderful Perfect Picture Book resource for parents and teachers!

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