by Karen Deans (Author) Joe Cepeda (Illustrator)
WorldCat is the world's largest library catalog, helping you find library materials online.
Gr 2-5—The groundbreaking interracial, all-female jazz band gets a nice call out in this vibrant informational picture book. The International Sweethearts of Rhythm got their start in 1939 at the Piney Woods Country Life School in Jackson, MS, as a school band created by Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, who founded the institution for orphans in 1909. The African American students embraced and excelled at swing music, performing in churches, halls, and schools until they branched out on their own, touring on their bus "Big Bertha" and with a chaperone Rae Lee Jones. When the group integrated, taking on musicians of many races and nationalities, it faced discrimination, especially in the Jim Crow South. The young women garnered international acclaim, even traveling to Europe in the 1940s to play for the American soldiers fighting overseas. Deans's text shines a light on the racial, social, and gender boundaries the band crossed, while emphasizing the bond of sisterhood that these girls created because of their talent, mutual struggle, and love of swing. The often wordy narrative comes off a little dry at times, reading a little too much like a textbook. However, Cepeda's oil and acrylic paint illustrations offset the tepid text, and the textured images appear as if they might reverberate off the page at any moment. Each sister is infused with her own personality and style. An inspirational tale to be lauded during curriculum units on women's, African American, and jazz history, this work should be shared with readers not yet ready for Sweethearts of Rhythm by Marilyn Nelson (Dial, 2009).—Shelley Diaz, School Library JournalCopyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
When Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started a school band for orphaned African-American girls in 1939 Mississippi, he couldn't have known it would lead to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, one of the few all-female (not to mention multiracial) bands of the 1940s. Deans candidly describes the barriers the Sweethearts faced as a result of Jim Crow laws ("The white girls had to pretend to be black or they could be arrested"), while Cepeda's chalky, jewel-toned paintings create an atmosphere of warmth and intimacy. A heartening tribute to a group of pioneering, dedicated musicians. Ages 4-8. Illustrator's agent: Jennifer Rofe, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.