Here is the story of “Hot Miss Lil” Hardin Armstrong, legendary jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader–and a female pioneer on the music stage.
Ever since she was a young girl, Lil Hardin played music with a beat. She jammed at home, at church, and even at her first job in a music store. At a time when women’s only place in jazz was at the microphone, Lil earned a spot playing piano in Chicago’s hottest band. She went on to achieve fame as a bandleader and composer, and “swung” with many of the greatest early jazz musicians, including her husband, Louis Armstrong. Award-winning author Mara Rockliff and acclaimed illustrator Michele Wood brilliantly capture the rhythms and passions of this jazz pioneer and legend whose music and story deserve to be heard. This biography contains strong back matter which includes archival images, further information about Lil, a list of some of her songs and recordings, a timeline, an author’s note, and a bibliography.
“Rockliff relates the jazz pioneer’s story in Lil Hardin’s imagined and enthusiastic first person, her conversational address developing an appropriately big personality…Wood’s bright, naïve acrylics complement the narrative style.” – Kirkus Reviews
“(I)n this jazzy picture book…(b)oth the chatty text and acrylic illustrations…are enthusiastic and engaging. Children who may have little experience with jazz will still get a sense of its innovation and the excitement it brought to performers and audiences alike.” – Booklist
“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. The “Jazz Wonder Child” dances through every page, a lively yellow-clad figure swirling and swinging…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.” –School Library Journal
“Rockliff brings immediacy to her story… (and) Wood’s thickly painted acrylics bring rolling momentum to the pages. A joyful portrait of a musician who made her mark on the jazz world.” –Publishers Weekly
“(H)appily uplifting… Wood’s heavily brushed acrylics are sassy and vibrant, and the…faces…rivet readers on the human drama, not just the musical genre.” - The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books