During World War II with the men away fighting overseas, women of all races, colors, and creeds stepped up to do the traditionally male jobs that needed doing back home in the United States. Marilyn Nelson has written this story (herstory) in a series of poems about an all-girl swing band. The story begins as an ancient tenor sax and three trombones sitting on the shelf of an old pawnshop start to talk about where they've been and what they've done. Turns out one by one they found themselves in the hands of girls, women, who knew how to play. They became a jazz band that toured and stood up against the Jim Crow laws of the South and against the prejudice of many hearts and minds. They proved that we could come together to create harmony and excellence despite the fear and the hatred and the small-mindedness that were still in those times. Jerry Pinkney's illustrations ring out, page by page, with the courage of the times. There's a feeling of good-heartedness on every page. A feeling of trying to bring to each reader the truth, the naturalness, the rightness of accepting each other and drawing on each other's strengths. Watch the reds as they travel from page to page. Then, look for the yellows and the greens and the oranges. Teach your children to see what lies beneath.
Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World
Dial Books (Penguin)