Actors Harry Shum Jr and Shelby Rabara Bring Passion for Dance and Imagination to New Children’s Book

This September, Gloo Books will publish Martee Dares to Dance, a picture book by actors and dancers Harry Shum Jr (Grey’s Anatomy, Glee) and Shelby Rabara (Steven Universe), and illustrated by Bianca Austria. 

Martee loves dancing to his own beat. But after an embarrassing experience leaves him reluctant to show off his moves, Martee grapples with the decision to attend his school's upcoming Halloween dance. It isn't until he meets an unlikely friend—a martian—that he finds the courage to embrace his bold moves and discovers that creative expression knows no bounds. 

Fitting in with Gloo’s mission to empower little readers to create a more just, inclusive, and compassionate future, Martee Dares to Dance aims to remind young ones that while embracing our true selves takes courage, it often leads to our greatest adventures.  

Authors Shum and Rabara pulled from their own experiences with dance and parenting to create the children’s book, the duo’s first. 

"We wrote this book because it takes courage to dance in front of others,” say Shum and Rabara. “Dance opens up avenues of adventure, whether it be an impromptu dance party in the middle of the grocery store aisle or a way to express feelings of joy and sadness and all the in-betweens. It has been an amazing form of expression and a creative outlet for our family. We hope this book inspires kids and parents to embrace the way they move in this world. Dare to be bold! Dare to dance like Martee!”

“When Harry and Shelby first reached out about their idea for a picture book, I knew immediately that the story was a perfect fit for Gloo,” says Karen Chan, Founder and CEO of Gloo Books. “Helping little ones, particularly young readers of color, see that their passions, experiences, and creativity matter—that they matter—is at the heart of every story we publish. Harry and Shelby have truly captured an important message within this inspired and fun story.” 

“Partnering with Gloo Books and Bianca has been a fantastic collaboration, and we are thrilled to share this interactive book with readers across the world,” Shum and Rabara conclude.