This is Gus, The Thumbtack Dancer

Gus is a most promising, most energetic and most talented young dancer who figures out how to make enough money to upgrade his tip-a-tap thumbtack sneakers to a new pair of real tap shoes that could Slap-a-dee-dap, slap-a-dee-dap – on a dance floor – with a dance teacher. Along the way, he uses his public street dancing with his thumbtack shoes to bring the change he needs and goes – Slap-a-dee-dap, slap-a-dee-dap – down the sidewalk, and right up to the big red door of the dance studio.

Picture this: On Little Cranberry Island (Islesford) off the coast of Maine near Acadia National Park, Leslie Tryon was teaching Ashley Bryan how to tap dance in the kitchen. It didn’t matter that Ashley was in his early 90’s – he was tapping. Leslie has been tapping most of her life so it was no surprise that Gus would come to life at some point. Leslie imagined the life of a young Savion Glover with all of his unstoppable energy and natural talent. Ashley loved the idea and Leslie’s story.

Summers on Islesford bring many people to Ashley Bryan’s door and the kitchen table is always full. Jan Spivey Gilchrist is an annual visitor to that kitchen table and it is Jan’s watercolor illustrations that move Gus across the pages. Alazar Press is a frequent visitor to that kitchen table and the stage was quickly set for this book to come to life Spring 2017. Recently, we went to Ashley’s kitchen table to record him reading this book in his distinctive style. No one can read, “SLIIII-DING down the hallway on his slippery thumbtacks. He wooshhhh-ed past his mama and out the kitchen door. Then he flip-flap, skip-rapped down the front steps BACKWARDS!” – better than Ashley. And, no one can dance it better than Gus! Here is Ashley’s recording of the book.

The book is available August 2017. The announcement for the book is here.

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