Mama Mable’s All-Gal Big Band Jazz Extravaganza!

Random/Make Me a World. Oct. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524718084.
PreS-Gr 4–While the men in the United States were away at war in the 1940s, all-female bands formed to entertain the women who were left behind working both in and out of the home. Sieg fictionalizes this part of history with the creation of Mama Mable’s All-Gal Big Band Jazz Extravaganza. The band is a composite of many real musicians of the time period, cited by the author as Viola Smith, Lil Hardin, Valaida Snow, Willie Mae Wong, Dot Sauter, and Melba Liston, with Mama Mable being a nod to musicians such as Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Nina Simone, and Ella Fitzgerald. The story is narrated by a collective “we” (“we welded, sawed, and sewed”), setting up the time period and then taking a trip to Mama Mable’s show, where the music is described in lyrical detail, ending with a spread about the healing power of music. Illustrations are full color and vivid. Text is sparse, averaging three to four lines per page spread.
VERDICT This title would be a welcome introduction to a music unit on jazz with follow-up on specific musicians, or an addition to a lesson about life in the United States during World War II. Recommended for collections with a strong music and history focus.

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