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Swing Sisters
The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm
by Karen Deans
Joe Cepeda, Illustrator

Reinforced | 32 pages | 11 x 9 | US$ 16.95
ISBN: 9780823419708 | 01-15-2015

Also available as an ebook.

Grade: SECOND | Age: 4 to 8

Themes: African American Interest, Women's History, Human & Civil Rights, 20th Century
Recommendations: A, K, SLJ

CCSS Codes:
RL.3.1-5, 7, 10
L.3.3, 4, 4a, 4c, 4d, 5, 5a-c ,6
RF.3.3, 3c, 3d, 4, 4a, 4c
SL.3.1, 1a-d, 2-4, 6
W.3.1, 2, 2a-d, 5, 7, 8, 10

About the Book

In 1909 Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones opened a special home for African American orphans in Mississippi called Piney Woods Country Life School. There, students worked hard on their studies, and no one worked harder than the young musicians who played in the Sweethearts, the school's all-girl swing band. Their music had rhythms and melodies that got people dancing!

When the Sweethearts left Piney Woods, they moved to Washington, D.C., to try to make it to the big-time in an era when integrated musical groups were practically unheard of. It wasn't always easy, and it wasn't always safe, but the talented Sweethearts of Rhythm ultimately became an international sensation.

The rhythmic text and exuberant illustrations celebrate these courageous musicians who chipped away at racist and sexist barriers, and whose music reminded audiences how great it feels to be alive.


"Chalky, jewel-toned paintings create an atmosphere of warmth and intimacy. A heartening tribute to a group of pioneering, dedicated musicians.—Publishers Weekly

"An inspirational tale to be lauded during curriculum units on women's, African American, and jazz history."—School Library Journal


Read an exclusive Q&A with author Karen Deans and illustrator Joe Cepeda!

About the Author
Karen Deans

Classroom Discussion Questions with CCSS:

1. Why was Piney Woods a "hope filled place"? RI.2-3.1 / SL.2-3.1

2. What is swing music? Describe the impact swing music had on society. RI.2-3.1, 4

3. Discuss the obstacles the Swing Sisters had to overcome. How do you think their experiences made them successful? SL.2-3.1, 1b, 4

4. What legacy did The Sweethearts leave to society and history? How are they an inspiration to all of us? Use evidence and details from the book. RI.2-3.1, 2, 3 / W.2-3.4, 8

About the Illustrator
Joe Cepeda

Educators' Guide
SWING SISTERS: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Educator's Guide featuring questions for classroom discussion and suggestions for further exploration. Includes connections to the Common Core State Standards.