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HOLLYBABY BOOK CLUB: 'Carla and Leo's World of Dance' Will Get Your Toddler (Or Tween) Tango-ing!

Tue, May 31, 2011 9:10am EDT by Add first Comment

Author-model Agatha Relota and fashion illustrator Thierry Perez have created one of the coolest — and most age-spanning — books we’ve seen yet!

My niece Katherine isn’t even a year old yet, and Carla and Leo’s World of Dance already has her emulating the rumba and the salsa like a pro. I sat down with little Kate the other day, and while she’s normally as squirmy and slippery as an angry eel, Carla and Leo’s World of Dance had her absolutely transfixed. I knew the little one already loved to dance — just put on a little Strauss waltz or even some mindless melody from one of her electronic toys, and her head and legs move instantaneously (if not exactly in tandem).

But I couldn’t believe how mesmerized she was by Carla and Leo, which takes the reader through some of the world’s most famous dances — the waltz, foxtrot, swing, mambo, and tango, just to start — via the eyes of pals Carla and Leo. They travel the globe learning about the various steps (and their cultural origins), the expertise and explanation provided by author Relota, who was a young ballerina of distinction and began serious ballroom training in her teens — before she became a fashion model who’s appeared in Vogue, W, and in front of the lenses of Patrick Demarchelier and Steven Klein.

When Kate and I got to page 63 (Yeah, says her uncle with undisguised pride, she’s got great attention-span) and spotted the mambo, she spontaneously launched her arms in the air, and did that crazy “dance-shake” she does with her head — such is the incredible visual impact of the illustrations. They’re the work of Thierry Perez, the renowned fashion illustrator, who’s done illustrations for Jean-Paul Gaultier, sculptures for Azzedine Alaia, and work for Harper’s Bazaar.

Kate and I will absolutely revisit Carla and Leo soon enough — when she’s old enough to walk, and perhaps even before her first big school dance. (Why are you rushing me, Uncle Will?) In any case, the amazing visuals and the chance to learn some big-kid steps will keep her (and your Hollykid) entranced throughout their childhood.

Click here to find Carla and Leo’s World of Dance at

— Will Lee