Lola’s Fandango

by Vicky on September 28, 2012

I have seldom seen a more perfect melding of story and pictures than in Lola’s Fandango, by Anna Witte and illustrated by Micha Archer. To make it even more compelling, it includes a CD that includes music and narration by a family amazingly similar to the one portrayed in the book!

I had so much fun making paper doll stick puppets of the family: Mami, Papi, Clementina, and Lola.  To portray the New York City apartment building the family lives in, Stuart and I improved the house-shaped set he had made for me last spring.  He cut an opening to correspond with my puppet theater’s stage, and another opening at the top to create an attic space. 

In my dramatization of the story, Lola goes to mope in the attic when her older sister, Clementina, has her friends over and shuts Lola out of their shared room.

In the attic, she discovers a trunk, and inside the trunk are a beautiful pair of shoes!  Lola runs to ask her mother about the shoes, but it is Papi who reveals that they are her mother’s special shoes for flamenco dancing.  He takes a photo out of his wallet to show her.

Lola is smitten with the gorgeous red polka dot dress, and begs Papi to teach her.

“It isn’t easy,” he tells her.  “You’ll have to practice a lot.  It takes duende.”

“What’s duende?” Lola wonders.

“Spirit.  Attitude!” Papi explains.

“I have duende!  And I’ll practice a lot, you’ll see!

So Papi begins teaching Lola, and they agree that it will be their secret.  But before she can begin dancing, she must learn the rhythm.  Papi teaches her how to clap:

One two THREE
Four five SIX
Nine TEN
Eleven TWELVE!

Toca toca tica
Toca toca tica
Toca tica
Toca tica
Toca tica!

Lola does everything to the rhythm, brushing her teeth Toca toca tica; getting dressed Toca toca tica; making her bed Toca tica, Toca tica, Toca tica

One day, Lola wakes up and exclaims, “I know it in my sleep, I know it in my sleep!”

When she advances to learning the steps, the neighbor downstairs bangs on his ceiling for quiet.  So Lola and Papi begin practicing on the roof.
Papi and the girls plan a surprise birthday party for Mami.  The apartment fills with family and friends, and Papi asks Lola to dance.  But Lola gets cold feet, and, besides, she has no polka dot dress.  Papi reminds her that she has duende, and then hands her a present, saying, “Maybe this will help.”

Inside the box is a beautiful red polka dot dress and matching shoes with nails in the bottom!

The story ends with a marvelous dance party, and even the grumpy neighbor downstairs gets included.

I had a great playlist of flamenco music to provide atmosphere for the story.

Afterwards, the kids made paper doll stick puppets of male and female flamenco dancers, which twirl beautifully. 

Here is a video about the making of the CD that accompanies the book:

I would LOVE to study with Micha Archer. Her collage technique is so elegant and expressive!

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