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Book Reviews

Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout! (A Book Review)

Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!: Games, Songs, and Stories from an African American Childhood

by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Age Level: 7 and up
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 12
Pages: 184
Available for Sale: January 10, 2017


Parents and grandparents will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider.


Oh, the hand clapping and jump rope games in this book bring back so many memories for me.

Remember this one?

“Down, down, baby, down by the roller coaster. Sweet, sweet baby, I’ll never let you go. Shimmy, shimmy coco pop, shimmy, shimmy pow!” 

Or how about this one?

“Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,
All dressed in black, black, black,
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons,
All down her back, back back.”

Growing up as a kid, my sister and I used to love playing hand clapping games with each other and our friends. We didn’t have all the fancy technology that’s available for kids today. We simply used our imagination and made up songs and games or we learned from other cultures and made the songs/games uniquely our own by adding different rhythms and movements.

There are also some beautiful spirituals, hymns, proverbs, psalms, fables, parables and circle games included in this book.  Some of my favorite gospel songs are featured too like: “This Little Light of Mine”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”.  I had fun teaching my daughter some of the hand clapping games like “Miss Mary Mack” and “Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop”.

I truly enjoyed this book…it’s a treasure that will no doubt be passed down for many generations to come in my family.  Not only is it jam packed with games, songs and stories that I can relate to, it also has some of the most beautiful swirling watercolor and ink illustrations to accompany the text.  Each game, song or story is preceded by a note from the author describing the origin/background or sharing a personal story from her childhood memories.

It’s also worth mentioning that the author of this book grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1950s.  It’s a collection of her favorite childhood games, songs, poetry and stories that are directly linked to her African-American heritage.  That being said, if you grew up in the 1950s, in either Missouri or Tennessee you’d probably relate best to this book.  However, I’m not saying this book is specifically geared toward that audience. What I am saying is that depending on what decade you were born and where you grew up, the wording to some of the hand claps and jump rope games may vary.  For example, the words to some of the songs featured in this book are slightly different from the words we used to sing.  Keep in mind I grew up in the 1980s in the Northeast close to NYC, which is a totally different time frame and geographic location than the author.  Also, some of my favorite hand claps like: “CeCe My Playmate” weren’t included in this book.  Perhaps that’s because the author didn’t sing that one as a child or maybe it wasn’t popular in the 1950s in the area where she grew up in.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this book for every African-American household.  Even if you’re not an African-American family, I’d recommend checking this one out and using it as a reference.  I think it’s wonderful!  Also great for keeping in a school library or classroom.  Look for this one in January 2017 or pre-order a copy now!

Your turn: What are some of your favorite hand clapping games, songs or spirituals from your childhood?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout! (A Book Review)

  1. Simple chants and songs like these are also incredibly effective for music education in children. I used them all the time as warm ups when I taught elementary school music classes.