The Electric Slide and Kai

by Kelly J Baptist (Author) Darnell Johnson (Illustrator)

The Electric Slide and Kai
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Kai is the only member of his family who can't get the dance steps to the Electric Slide right. But Kai is determined to bust a move in this fun and sweet celebration of African American families.

Kai's aunt is getting married, and everyone in the Donovan family is excited about the wedding ... except Kai. The highlight of every Donovan occasion is dancing the electric slide--a groovy line dance with footwork that Kai can't quite figure out. More than anything, he wants to prove that he can boogie with the rest of his family and earn a cool nickname from his granddad. Can Kai break through his nerves and break it down on the dance floor?

Told with humor and heart by author Kelly J. Baptist and lively illustrations from debut picture book artist Darnell Johnson, The Electric Slide and Kai is a funky celebration with all the right moves!

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A simple, sweet story about a small boy's journey to feeling accepted. 

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
An all-around wonderful book that will inspire laughter and perhaps even a little dancing.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2—In the Donovan family, everyone has a dance nickname bestowed by Granddad except for Kai. After embarrassing himself during the electric slide at a family reunion, Kai decides he can't dance. When Kai's aunt Nina invites the family to her wedding, Kai becomes determined to learn the moves and earn approval (and the coveted nickname) from his grandfather. He approaches each family member, even his little sister Ava, known as "Baby Bounce," for advice and practices for the whole month before the wedding. Despite his preparations, Kai gets nervous at the reception and sneaks off the dance floor. With some encouragement from Mr. Troy, now his new uncle who's also eager for a nickname, Kai finally shows off his moves and becomes "Lil' Slide." Johnson's digital illustrations show this loving Black family in scenes that have a dynamic cartoon quality, well suited to conveying the fun dance moves (and Kai's blunders) as well as the child's many emotions throughout the story. VERDICT An uplifting story with just the right mix of humor, family love, and an unobtrusive lesson in persistence, plus a glowing look at the hubbub around a wedding, this is a recommended purchase.—Yelena Voysey, formerly at Pickering Educational Lib., Boston Univ.

Review quotes


Kelly J Baptist
Kelly J. Baptist is the inaugural winner of the We Need Diverse Books short-story contest. Her story is featured in the WNDB anthology Flying Lessons & Other Stories and inspired her first full-length novel, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero, and its sequel, Isaiah Dunn Saves the Day. Kelly is also the author of the picture book The Electric Slide and Kai and The Swag Is in the Socks, which was inspired by her love of unique socks, as well as her older sister's hero work as a speech-language pathologist. Kelly lives in southwest Michigan with her five amazing children. Find Kelly at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Lee & Low Books
Publication date
March 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV031020 - Juvenile Fiction | Performing Arts | Dance
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV013080 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Blended Families
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Family life

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