Born To Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong's Life in Jazz

illus. by Michele Wood. 32p. bibliog. chron. photos. Calkins Creek. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629795553.
Gr 2–5—Chronicling the life of Lil Hardin Armstrong, the illustrations and first-person text showcase an exuberance evident in the life of "Miss Lil," who pioneered not only female musicianship in jazz, but jazz itself. In the author's note, Rockliff mentions Hardin was working on an autobiography at the time of her death (at the piano, no less), which has since disappeared. Readers will learn of Hardin's childhood spent in Memphis where she was attracted to swing even as she trained as a classical pianist and played for services at her church. The "Jazz Wonder Child" dances through every page, a lively yellow-clad figure swirling and swinging through her move to Chicago, rise to jazz fame, and meetings with such famous folks as Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong (who would later become her husband). Wood relies on yellow to draw the eye to important features on each page and to drench the book in the fervor and delight Lil Hardin clearly felt for music. A "Listen to Lil" section provides a suggested song list for readers curious to hear more.
VERDICT Suitable for read-alouds at storytimes or school projects for the upper grades.

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