STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE, written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Rachel Himes, showcases the personality, talent, and successes of Lil Hardin Armstrong, the First Lady of Jazz. This biography in verse is fun to read and filled with vivid details that almost dance off the page. Recommended for children in grades 3 through 7, the language is accessible and vibrant, and the poetic lines ask to be read aloud. The author is direct in sharing topics like racial segregation and sexism in ways that even younger readers will grasp and appreciate.
Lil Hardin Armstrong’s story is told in four parts, with a focus on events influencing her musical development and accomplishments. From church organist at 9-years old to a rebellious daughter playing in a band, and later to an ambitious powerhouse behind Louis Armstrong’s success, the story of The First Lady of Jazz will inspire and captivate readers. Like the music, Struttin’ With Some Barbecue is fast moving and exciting.
The graphite and ink art throughout the book is expressive and joyful. Sometimes illustrator Rachel Himes chooses a detail, like a vinyl record, hands clapping, or a silhouette, to highlight a moment in the story. Other times she creates entire scenes full of movement and personality. The illustrations accent the words wonderfully.
The end of the book includes a glossary, notes on jazz, segregation, quotation sources, and further reading. The book itself will be sure to inspire readers to learn more about Lil Hardin Armstrong and her talents for music, business, and life.
Recommended for ages 8-14.