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Sweethearts of Rhythmby Marilyn Nelson
Synopses & Reviews
In the 1940s, as the world was at war, a remarkable jazz band performed on the American home front. This all-female band, originating from a boarding school in the heart of Mississippi, found its way to the most famous ballrooms in the country, offering solace during the hard years of the war. They dared to be an interracial group despite the cruelties of Jim Crow laws, and they dared to assert their talents though they were women in a ?man?s? profession. Told in thought-provoking poems and arresting images, this unusual look at our nation?s history is deep and inspiring.
"A Newbery Honor author (Carver: A Life in Poems) and Caldecott Honor artist (Noah's Ark) execute a masterful duet in this tribute to an integrated female band that toured the U.S. between the late 1930s and mid-1940s. In 20 poems titled after swing tunes, Nelson writes in the voices of the Sweethearts' instruments, now gathered in a New Orleans pawnshop. Connecting music to greater human truths (some dark, some triumphant), the verse strikes nostalgic yet celebratory notes, underscoring how the band's music delivered joy and hope during an era plagued by war and racism ('The jitterbug was one way people forgot/ the rapidly spreading prairie fires of war./ Man, the house would bounce when her licks were hot!/ We gave those people what they were dancing for'). Rendered in graphite, color pencil, watercolor and collage, Pinkney's luminous, multilayered paintings superimpose snippets of musical notation on images of the musicians and audiences in full swing. Balancing these rousing scenarios are less uplifting but no less striking signs of the times: segregated sinks in a washroom, soldiers marching off to war. On all fronts, a resonant performance. Ages 10 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In the 1940s, as the world was at war, a remarkable jazz band performed on the American home front. This all-female band, originating from a boarding school in the heart of Mississippi, found its way to the most famous ballrooms in the country, offering solace during the hard years of the war. Full color.
About the Author
Marilyn Nelson is a three-time National Book Award Finalist and winner of a Newbery Honor for Carver: A Life in Poems. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut.
Jerry Pinkney has won five Caldecott Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards and serves on the National Council on the Arts. He lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.
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