Simonie and the Dance Contest will not be for everyone. It has a voice that is probably slightly older than the format and possibly a bit too classical sounding (even though it is coming out in August of this year).
Gail Matthews book introduces the people of Taloyoak, Nunavut, and one boy who love of reading and dancing. While perhaps more culture could have been brought in, the story is about trying, practicing and learning about listening to the music. It is set at Christmas and has a traditional Christmas feeling to the story. However, it is not a “Merry Christmas” or “Santa” or a “Baby Jesus” type of Christmas story. It is more the good-will and good feelings of the season.
It is richly illustrated and overall a fun story. Ali Hinch’s illustrations are relatable and fun. You can picture yourself at the dance or even dancing. The theme comes across perfectly with the companion illustrations.
It might not be a great read-aloud for outside a classroom and then only if studying different cultures. Or perhaps if you are looking for Christmas-but-not-Christmas story. The fact that there is not any description of the where or the wh0 the people are is a lost opportunity to teach and show a different culture. Also, there is nothing giving descriptions or the pronunciation of some of the non-English words.
And while this is a lovely book and actual a cozy read for adults, I think if it had been put in a novel format (most likely for third or young fourth grade) there would be a larger audience for it than the traditional picture book size.