From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—History and music are combined in this account of all-women bands during World War II. Information about jazz and swing underlies Bolden's focus on the significance of female musicians who filled the void created by the war. They had to prove themselves in general and overcome ideas about what kind of music was appropriate for women to perform. Racism also impacted the ability of a number of the bands to tour the country. Bolden provides a wealth of material in this brief selection, and does so in a lively prose style and with frequent use of jazz vernacular. Photo captions and boxed inserts add interesting details. Endnotes; source lists of books, periodicals, and videos; a recommended reading list, and a discography are appended. This book would be most helpful for assignments on music or women's history.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
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To appreciate this book, readers need at least a nodding acquaintance with swing music. The accompanying CD will help, and Bolden's introduction, which features opinions from Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, and others, gets things off to a good start. Then, using fascinating archival material, including newspaper and magazine articles and posters, all heavily captioned, she goes on to discuss pioneering female jazz bands, which gained steam particularly during World War II after most male band members went overseas. One problem is that a book about female musicians from the past doesn't have the hook of derring-do that accompanies books about women fliers or explorers. Bolden counters the difficulty by using a fresh style of writing, as bouncy as the music, and incorporating lots of slang--which works, up to a point. History students may be the best audience for this, but some kids will love the music and want to know more. Quotes are sourced and extensive lists for further reading and listening are provided. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved