Sunday, December 30, 2007
Capoeira: Game, Dance, Martial Art by George Ancona
Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art! by George Ancona
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (May 2007)
Capoeira (kah-poo-AY-rah)is a game, dance, and martial art combined in one. It originated among African slaves in Brazil in the 1500's who were trying to disguise their fighting skills through dance and music. Today, it is a part of the Brazilian culture, and it has made its way to the United States.
In Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art!, George Ancona tells the story of Capoeira by following a classroom of students at the Mandiga Academy in Oakland, California. Kids reading the book are sure to get a kick out of the Portuguese nicknames of the students in the classroom from Reizinho (little king), to Perereca (tree frog), to Princesa (princess) to the name of the instructor, Malandro (scoundrel). In fact, Ancona uses a number of Portuguese words throughout the book when talking about Capoeira. He even includes a glossary with a pronunciation key in the back of the book for kids who want to practice speaking the words. Through pictures and Ancona's detailed descriptions these students teach different moves and techniques as well as names of traditional musical instruments used to play music during Capoeira games.
Ancona also takes us to Brazil and shows the impact of Capoeira on the Brazilian culture today. From the slums and beaches to actual Capoeira academies, we see vibrant photographs of kids of all ages and walks of life practicing this amazing art. A few years ago, I spent four months teaching English in Brazil and was fortunate enough to see Capoeira being played on the streets. While nothing can compare to seeing it in person, Ancona's book gives us a vivid picture and interesting history of the art.
If you have a child who is into martial arts but who may not be into reading, Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art! is an engaging, interactive book that would be sure to spark his/her interest. It would also be a great choice for introducing the Brazilian culture and Portuguese vocabulary.