Episode 22 — Swing, Jitterbug, and Sing the Blues
|Grades||K – 5|
|Podcast Series||Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers
See all episodes in this series
|Original Air Date||Published March 19, 2010|
Music in this podcast is provided by Freeplay Music.
Choosing a red dress the color of July firecrackers, a pizazzy hat and her favorite blue shoes, Miz Mozetta heads outside for a stroll. She hears a crazy beat coming from her young neighbors boombox and wants to cut a rug in the street, but her old friends won’t join her (too many aches and pains) and the young neighborhood kids don’t think she can groove with them (they send her to sit with her old friends). Feeling defeated, Miz Mozetta heads back to her apartment where she dreams of her dancing days at the Blue Pearl Ballroom. Pretty soon Miz Mozetta hears a knock on the door and it’s her old friends arriving to cheer her up, dressed to the nines, and ready to dance. In a surprising twist, the neighborhood kids hear the music and come up to see what’s going on. Maybe Miz Mozetta has a thing or two to show the young ones about dancing. This book will have you itching to dance and rooting for Miz Mozetta!
Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World
Author: Marilyn Nelson
Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney
Publisher: Dial Books, 2009
Author Marilyn Nelson dares to ask, “What untold stories do instruments hold?” and “What if we could be a fly on the wall and hear these stories?” Set in a pawn shop in New Orleans the day before Hurricane Katrina hits, the instruments begin to share their triumphs in the hands of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm , an all-female swing band that played in the 1940s. Not only were they all-female, but they also dared to be an interracial group despite Jim Crow laws. Nelson cleverly tells the story of this innovative band through poems told in the voices of the different instruments. The title of each poem is also the name of a famous song during that time. This alone will make you want to download the songs so you can listen as you read. Pinkney’s illustrations beautifully and perfectly add more historical context and life to Nelson’s collection of poems. Make sure to read the author’s and illustrator’s notes at the back of the book. Both provide more insight into this collaboration.
Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation
Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2008
Many people have heard the story of Rosa Parks’ bravery, but no one has heard the story told by a guitar-strumming hound dog singing the blues. This book tells Rosa’s story, about her refusing to give up her seat, about Martin Luther King, Jr. calling for a boycott, about people coming together for the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 to walk, walk, walk instead of ride, ride, riding. And about Jim Crow always peck, peck, pecking. All of it is told in a bluesy cadence sung by the guitar-playing hound dog. The text and illustration work together well, with the looming dark Jim Crow pervading each illustration and then finally dissipating as he begins to lose his hold after the Supreme Court decision is made. Kids will definitely take note of the symbolic presence of this ugly black crow and it’s disappearance at the end of the book. This book makes an interesting way to tell of this oft-heard historical event.
Emily enjoys cookies and milk with Johnny, Samantha, and their mom Robynn. This family read the book Boycott Blues by Andrea Pinkney and Brian Pinkney. Together they review the book and discuss the kinds of conversations that they had together while reading it. When reading books with kids that have a historical context, it is important to build background knowledge. This can be done through conversation, reading other books on the same topic, going to a museum, or – in this case – listening to music to set the tone.
Emily enjoys a conversation with Marilyn Nelson and Jerry Pinkney, the author and illustrator pair of Sweethearts of Rhythm. Listen in to find out why this book inspired both of them to stretch themselves in new ways and which poem and illustration captured their imagination.