What’s in a Name?

Gargoyle Bruce, the famous Bookshelf Gargoyle, has posed a reading challenge for 2014 — The Small Fry Safari Readers Challenge. I am offering up my second entry for this challenge — Category #4A book with someone’s name in the title.

We recently had a SERENDIPITOUS visit to my favorite book store, Half-Price Books and found TWO fabulous books with TWO fabulous NAMES! So, I have TWO books to offer up! Double Duty for this one.

First up!

IMG_4966Sweethearts of Rhythm, The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World

Written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Published by Dial Books in 2009

This is a most fabulous book!!! Not just because it’s about Rhythm (ME!) It’s fabulous because it is!! It’s about an all-girl jazz band put together in the 1940s during the war years. From the dustjacket – “They dared to be an interracial group despite the cruelties of Jim Crow laws, and they dared to assert their talents although they were women in a “man’s” profession. The story is told through the voices of the instruments. In verse.

“I led the band in an artillery
of wittlily syncopated quarter notes,
or with the buttery longing her strong lips drew from me
until a warbling April morning filled my throat!”

Heart thumping. And the artwork is mesmerizing. Mr Pinkney lets you feel the RHYTHM on every page. Magic.

IMG_4968At the back of the book is a chronological history of the Sweethearts of Rhythm. In 1909 Laurence C. Jones founded the Piney Woods Country Life School in Piney Woods, Mississippi for poor and orphaned African American children. In 1937 he organized an all-girl band of students from the school. The band included a Chinese saxophonist, a Hawaiian trumpeter, and a Mexican clarinetest along with all the African American musicians, so he called the band the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. They started touring to raise money for the school.

There is also a “note” from the author and one from the artist. Both give some background about the birth of this book. And a bibliography for further research.

I am in love with this book! It is a magical journey — and my feet can’t be still. Dancing to the RHYTHM!

Whew! Now onto my Second selection for the NAME category —

IMG_4963You Are My Cupcake (Cupcake is my good buddie and the star of Cupcake Speaks)

This is a little board book done by Joyce Wan.

Published by Scholastic Cartwheel Books in 2011.

It is a cute menu of endearments often spoken to small ones and dogs and loved ones. As in “you are my cupcake!” And “my mushy little sweet pea.” That’s what my Mom Person calls me a lot – Sweet Pea. Not mushy though. Maybe she will add mushy to it now after reading this book. It is a cute book with big bold words and pictures. Pastel colors with sprinkles on top!

IMG_4965Ms Wan has a great website where you can see more of her work – including cards and books and fun stuff!

So there you have it folks! Two for the price of one – going on safari! Be sure and mosey on over to Bruce’s Shelf and see what other safari titles you might find.

And for your listening enjoyment, here’s a taste of those Sweethearts of Rhythm

I wish you a day of song and dance and plenty of sweet treats!
Your dancing friend

Copy of img311

And All That Jazz

Well, we have just had a few days of thoughtful remembrance and have celebrated Memorial Day in all kinds of ways. Parades, Barbecues, Picnics, Prayer gatherings, Visits to cemeteries, Waving of flags.

But did you know that Saturday, the 25th, was also National Jazz Day?! AND National Tap Dance Day?! Did you do any dancing this weekend? Well, I sure did! I don’t actually have any tap shoes, but my nails do a pretty good tapping on the tile floor! And we have a local radio station that plays some pretty good jazz!

The Mom Person has a boy who is a real jazz fan, so she decided that it would be a good thing to get him some new jazz books for Father’s Day. That will be coming up soon. He happens to be the Dad of My Princess Reading Buddies. Well, the books came in the mail today and are they ever SUPER!!!! And if you promise not to tell Mr Princess Dad, I’ll tell you all about them!


john coltraneBefore John Was a Jazz Giant, a Song of John Coltrane is by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Sean Qualls. It was published by Henry Holt & Co. in 2008. It was a 2009 winner of a Coretta Scott King illustrator honor and a 2009 Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year. Isn’t that something?! The book is a rhythmic story of John Coltrane’s childhood and all the sounds that he heard and listened to that lead him to the sounds of jazz music. At the end of the book is an author’s note about Mr Coltrane’s real biography. And some lists of more resources. This is a fine little book, with bubbly, jazzy illustrations. It makes me want to go outside and listen to the world.

jazz flyThe Jazz Fly is written and performed by Matthew Gollub and illustrated by Karen Hanke. It was published by Tortuga Press in 2000. It comes with an audio CD!! Jazz Fly is trying to get to town but doesn’t know the way, so he stops to ask various critters for help. But he speaks Jazz and they speak whatever, so they don’t understand each other. But the Fly hears music in their words. This is such a great read aloud!! Jazz Rhythm! Some of the verses rhyme and some don’t. There is an author’s note at the end of the book to explain this. He shows you how the words are meant to be accented like jazz music. Then he says, “But don’t feel bound to the way I recite the story. Play with the phrases. Acquaint them with your mouth.” I like that. This is a really fun book!!

jazz a b zAnd the really WOW book, that the Mom Person is trying to decide if she wants to keep for herself or not, is Jazz A-B-Z, an A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits by Wynton Marsalis and illustrated by Paul Rogers. It was published by Candlewick Press in 2005. Candlewick Press puts out the absolute best books!  This is a virtual encyclopedia of jazz! And poetry! Each letter is represented by a jazz musician and a different type of poem. So you have A is for Louis Armstrong with an Accumulative poem. H is Coleman Hawkins with a Substitution poem. N is for Nat King Cole with a nursery rhyme. Z is for Dizzy Gillespie with a Skeltonic verse. (Ms Catherine Johnson, I think you would love this book!) At the end of the book are biographical sketches of all the musicians and notes on all the different poetic forms. Incredible!!!

So there you have it! Jazz and more Jazz! ( I have a friend named Jazz who is a crazy, jazzy golden retriever!)

And now for a little music from Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones —

and a little Tapping with Eleanor Powell to go with —

ABCs in the USA

I’ve done a little traveling in my time. Not a lot. But some.

I’ve lived in T is for TexasIMG_5532

and in F is for Florida.palm beach      I’ve seen a lot of Texas. Not so much of Florida. Just the Tampa area where I was in training to be a

G is for guide dog.img338

In Texas, I’ve seen some big cities, like D is for DallasIMG_2911.

And little towns, like G is for Glen Rose.IMG_1601  where we have

D is for dinosaurs.dino valley 3-08 014 and R is for rivers.031911173620

Recently my friend Macy read me a really cool alphabet book — ABC  USA by Martin Jarrie. It was published by Sterling Publishing Co. in 2005.

IMG_1375Each letter of the alphabet is represented by something related to the USA! From A is for Alligator to G is for the Grand Canyon to P is for Pilgrims to Z is for Zydeco. Zydeco. Cool word. We had to look that one up and see what it was about. It’s about cool music!

At the back of the book is a glossary that tells you about each word. Did you know that the alligator is the largest reptile in North America and is the state reptile of F is for Florida?!



The illustrations are pretty awesome. Kind of old fashioned and quirky. I like quirky. It was fun reading this book with Macy. She laughed at a lot of the pictures and asked a lot of questions. Why did they do T is for Tractors instead of T is for Texas? What’s Jazz? What’s the Underground Railroad? It made for a good history lesson.

It was a fun book and I think you should check it out!

And in case you’re unfamiliar with Zydeco —