Meet the Swing Sisters: New Children’s Book Celebrates First All-Female Integrated Jazz Band

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Orphaned girls break barriers to become world-renowned musicians in new book from Karen Deans and Joe Cepeda

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SWING—now, that music was filled with energy! It was JAZZ. It had rhythms and melodies that got people up on their feet to dance. And like any good music, it told stories about how it feels to be alive.

In this compelling story of orphaned children who became international musical sensations, "SWING SISTERS: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm" by Karen Deans, illustrated by award winner Joe Cepeda, will have readers tapping their feet as they learn about this true story of a group of girls who broke racist and sexist barriers to become world-renowned musicians. This new children's book is slated for release February 1, 2015.

"SWING—now, that music was filled with energy!
It was JAZZ.
It had rhythms and melodies that got people up on their feet to dance.
And like any good music, it told stories about how it feels to be alive."

In 1909, Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started Piney Woods Country Life School, a place for orphaned children near Jackson, Mississippi. The children in the school spent their days learning, working and playing; and in 1939, Dr. Jones, wanting to instill a love for music in the children, formed a school band called the Sweethearts. Playing trumpets, trombones, clarinets, saxophones, piano, drums, guitars and bass, the group of girls played big band, or swing, music. After Piney Woods, the girls moved to Washington, DC and kept the Sweethearts together, playing in venues all across the country. Picking up new members as others left, the Sweethearts accepted women of every color, as long as they could swing.

As the first integrated all-women swing band in history, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, as they were later called, took the country by storm, defying Jim Crow laws to play to tens of thousands of people, even being invited to play for American troops serving overseas during World War II.

With bright, energetic illustrations from Joe Cepeda that perfectly complement Karen Deans’s text, "SWING SISTERS: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm" will inform young readers about this important group of women who stood against society’s expectations to bring big band music to the masses.

KAREN DEANS has worked as a journalist and is also a fine artist and entrepreneur. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and their three children.

JOE CEPEDA is the illustrator of more than twenty books for children and has received a Pura Belpré Honor Award. He lives in Southern California with his wife and their son. Learn more about Joe at http://www.joecepeda.com.

SWING SISTERS: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm
by Karen Deans
Illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Illustrations created with oil paint and acrylic paint on illustration board.
Contains author’s note and selected bibliography.
ISBN: 978-0-8234-1970-8
February 1, 2015 • Ages 4–8 • 32 pages • $16.95 • E-book available

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Katie Morris
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