Hey, Charleston! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band

Anne Rockwell, illus. by Colin Bootman. Carolrhoda, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-5565-6
Founded in Charleston at the turn of the century by Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins, a pastor and former slave determined to give homeless African-American children a better life, the Jenkins Orphanage Band created an irresistible hybrid of martial music and the “raggedy, rattly sound” of “rag” from Geechee/Gullah culture, and incubated the talents of men who helped shape American jazz. A trip to New York City launched a global craze for both the music and the dancing that often accompanied it—the “twisting and twirling and tapping their toes, knocking their knees, and flapping their arms”—soon known as the Charleston. Rockwell (Truck Stop) keeps the story focused and lively, with just enough social and emotional framing (Reverend Jenkins “was always looking for a way to turn bad into good” is a recurring refrain) to add resonance. Bootman’s (Love Twelve Miles Long) sepia tones and military blues beautifully evoke a distant time, but his pictures are at their most fun when he shows how the band brought people everywhere to their feet. Ages 7–11. Author’s agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Nov.)■
Reviewed on: 10/07/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
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