An appealing and informative composition aimed at a younger audience than Marilyn Nelson and Jerry Pinkney’s Sweethearts of...

SWING SISTERS

THE STORY OF THE INTERNATIONAL SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM

Women! Jazz! Integration!

In 1909, Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones founded a school and orphanage for black children in Mississippi, and in 1939, he started an all-girl swing band: the Sweethearts of Rhythm. Swing “was filled with energy!” The girls performed locally and throughout the country. In 1945, they played to enthusiastic soldiers as part of a USO tour brought about by a letter-writing campaign from African-American GIs. Writing in a folksy style, Deans describes the lives of the girls in the orphanage and on the road in Jim Crow territory; this, ironically, was made even more difficult after the band integrated. The infectious joy of swing music comes across nicely with details about instrumentation and performances. A scary encounter with the police is also described. Cepeda’s colorful and richly textured full-bleed acrylic-and-oil paintings match the mostly upbeat mood with illustrations of the women happily playing various instruments, joyfully askew compositions evoking the big-band beat. The group did not stay together, but the final illustration opens the way for more music as a now-elderly Sweetheart hands over her trumpet to a smiling girl. Readers will certainly want to grab recordings and dance and swing to the sounds.

An appealing and informative composition aimed at a younger audience than Marilyn Nelson and Jerry Pinkney’s Sweethearts of Rhythm (2009). (author’s note, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1970-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.

ANTSY ANSEL

ANSEL ADAMS, A LIFE IN NATURE

This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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