Back in 1909, not far from Jackson, Mississippi, Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones opened a special place for orphans named Piney Woods Country Life School. Dr. Jones loved music and wanted the children to love it too. In 1939 he started a school band that was just for girls, and he called it the Sweethearts. The music the girls played was called swing. It had rhythms and melodies that got people up on their feet to dance. And like all good music, it told stories about how it feels to be alive. After the girls left Piney Woods, the band stayed together and performed around the world. With their enormous talent and joyful music, the Sweethearts chipped away at racist and sexist barriers wherever they went.
About the Author
Karen Deans is the author of Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson, illustrated by Elbrite Brown. She is also an artist whose favorite medium is oil paint on panel. Ms. Deans lives with her husband and three children in the Washington DC area.
Joe Cepeda is an award-winning illustrator of more than twenty books for children. He lives in Southern California with his wife and their son.
"The infectious joy of swing music comes across nicely . . . Cepeda's colorful and richly textured full-bleed acrylic-and-oil paintings match the mostly upbeat mood . . . An appealing and informative composition"—Kirkus Reviews
"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. . . . Cepeda's oil and acrylic paint illustrations . . . appear as if they might reverberate off the page at any moment."—School Library Journal
"A heartening tribute to a group of pioneering, dedicated musicians."—Publishers Weekly
"More than just a history of the band, this takes on a larger picture, including Jim Crow laws and how the Sweethearts helped break down both gender and racial barriers. . . . An appealing piece of American history."—Booklist
California Reading Association Eureka! Gold Award Winner A Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year