Marilyn Nelson and Jerry Pinkney team up in SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM and a more powerful pair I cannot fathom. Nelson's swinging rhythms and word play plus Pinkney's layered detailed illustrations bring to life the all girl swing band. Rather than focus on the voices of the women, Nelson opts to allow the instruments to do the speaking. What that provides readers (and listeners since this book is aching to be read aloud and, I hope, made into an audiobooks) is a wide variety of poetic styles and rhythms. Guitar, bass, sax, trumpet are all represented. Pinkney's wildly colorful paintings of the women and their instruments keeps the book grounded in time and place in history.
And while driving the past couple of weeks, here is the book I listened to.
Meet ANDROMEDA KLEIN, aka AAK, aka Dromedary, aka Soror Imperfecta. Frank Portman brings readers a quirkily lovable character in Andromeda, a young woman obsessed with tarot and synchs and all things magic (but not magick, please). Her older boyfriend, St. Steve, has gone missing. Her best friend, Daisy, has succumbed to leukemia. All Andromeda has left are her rituals. Home life is insane with a mother who is either Australian or Austrian and a father who is the very definition of paranoia. School is no better. One refuge, the place Andromeda calls the International House of Bookcakes (aka, the library) is weeding its collection of the books Andromeda most values. How will Andromeda survive all this loss?
I found it easier to negotiate the references to tarot and the like by listening to the book. When I was struggling with my reading of it earlier, I kept getting sidetracked with names and references that were unfamiliar. I thought maybe the audio would remedy that, and it did. I was able to let the unfamiliar references go by and simply enjoy the story knowing I would learn more as it progressed.