Take a deep dive with your classroom into Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall Prince by Alliah L. Agostini; illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice. This picture book is about a community coming together to have a good time. In this activity kit, you can host your own Dancehall Party, and bring different cultures together. A Dancehall Party is when “Family, friends, music, food, and drink are a universal recipe for a good time! And in immigrant communities like the early 1990s Brooklyn, New York, Jamaican community depicted here, parties or bashments are an opportunity to reconnect with local family, friends, and the rhythm and flavors of a home thousands of miles away.”
Click below to download the activity kit to share in your school or library.
About the Book
Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall Prince by Alliah L. Agostini; illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice
An exuberant picture book written by Alliah L. Agostini and illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice is about a Black boy with big dancing dreams who learns the meaning of courage and community.
It’s the weekend, first in June; speaker’s blasting out big tune!
Cousins, aunties, uncles, friends pack the house, and fun begins.
Shane is shy but loves to dance—and all year long, he’s picked up cans to earn some money toward his goal: high-tops with a pump-up sole.
But then the speaker blows—it’s done! Will this stop his family’s fun?
Can Shane come through to save the day and bring back Big Tune Saturday?
Set within a vibrant Caribbean American neighborhood and told to a rhythmic beat, Big Tune is a story of Black boy joy that touches on determination, confidence to express who you are, selflessness, and community gratitude.
★ “This lively, vibrant narrative has an infectious spirit, and Shane is irresistible. Grounded in a tightknit Jamaican American community, the story deftly incorporates visual and textual references to dance styles, food, and other cultural touchstones… Themes of joy, solidarity, and artistic expression are effortlessly woven throughout the words and images… An exuberant celebration of community that leaps off the page.” —Kirkus, starred review
★ “Portrayals of diasporic Caribbean culture and a child’s selflessness distinguish Agostini’s 1990s Brooklyn-set story celebrating connection and community… Agostini’s buoyant rhyming verse pulses with details, and Knight-Justice’s stylized illustrations layer bold patterns and textures with typewritten text, sheet music, and images of the Jamaican flag, building a joyfully immersive portrait of neighborhood gatherings where ‘Swaying hips wine fast and slow./ Brown skin shines with black light’s glow.'” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The vibrant beat of the rhyming text makes a splendid complement to the energetic art. Rich textures evocative of cutpaper collage and dynamic patterns give enthusiastic life to the more geometric backgrounds, and figures are always in movement, with poses swinging, swaying, and bopping.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The picture book stresses the importance of community and selflessness, essential lessons for a picture book audience. Distinctive and vibrant collage-style illustrations depict a Black community of various skin tones and hair textures. This unique picture book’s celebration of Jamaican culture and community is a great addition to every library.” —School Library Journal