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Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa

Overview

Ella Fitzgerald began her life as a singer on the stage of the Apollo Theater when she was just seventeen years old. Her rich voice and vocal innovations brought her fame and a remarkable career than spanned half a century and won her generations of fans around the world. Acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney has told Ella's inspiring story in the voice of Scat Cat Monroe, a feline fan whose imagined narrative sings with the infectious rhythms of scat. Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney's dramatic ...
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Overview

Ella Fitzgerald began her life as a singer on the stage of the Apollo Theater when she was just seventeen years old. Her rich voice and vocal innovations brought her fame and a remarkable career than spanned half a century and won her generations of fans around the world. Acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney has told Ella's inspiring story in the voice of Scat Cat Monroe, a feline fan whose imagined narrative sings with the infectious rhythms of scat. Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney's dramatic perspectives and fantastical images offer a jazzy improvisation all their own.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The team behind Duke Ellington here showcases the First Lady of Song, in what PW's starred review called "a `skippity-hop-doo-dee-bop' picture book." Ages 5-9. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Scat Cat Monroe, a feline who earned his name by knowing the "Queen of Scat," tells her story from "small-town girl to the First Lady of Song." The text, divided into four tracks (chapters), highlights Fitzgerald's early days in Harlem, singing with the Chick Webb Orchestra at the Savoy, and performing bebop with Dizzy Gillespie at Carnegie Hall. In a playful, conversational tone, this work nearly sings the rhythms of scat. Lively words and phrases like "Her voice was quick-fried rhythm" and "her scat swung to cloud nine and back" are scattered throughout. Brian Pinkney's distinctive scratchboard-and-acrylic paintings evoke the rhythm of the text and invite readers along on the ride. They will enjoy finding Scat Cat himself on most of the spreads. Bright colors, jazzy words, and energetic artwork bring the music of scat and Fitzgerald to life. A page of biographical information is included. This beautifully rendered tribute to the "Vocal Virtuosa" will be a welcome addition in all libraries.-Shauna Yusko, King County Library System, Bellevue, WA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this terrific picture-book biography, Scat Cat Monroe, a slick, fast-talking cat tells the story of Ella Fitzgerald, the Queen of Scat. Scat Cat (who shares author credit on the title page) claims to have been there from the start and considers himself the keeper of Ella's flame. Cleverly organized in four tracks instead of chapters, his account chronicles Fitzgerald's unlikely debut at an Apollo Theatre talent contest as a 17-year-old who sings only because she's too scared to dance. From there, it moves to her rousing success with the Chick Webb Orchestra, and then to her eventual teaming up with Dizzy Gillespie, when she would rechart the course of bebop. The prose is jazzy and rhythmic in the voice of a hipster, and it's expertly illustrated with images inspired by the works of Harlem Renaissance artists, clueing readers to several departure points for further study. In this vein, the team provides useful afterwords explaining their methods and the historical backdrop to the story-complete with bibliography, videography, and selected discography. The design of this effort is quite remarkable; from time to time, words splash across the pages, and change in font and size, effectively mirroring rhythms and meanings. Using Scat Cat as the narrator allows easy access for younger readers, and his in-the-know voice will win over older ones. Anyone who enjoyed the Pinkneys' other cultural collaborations-Alvin Ailey (1995) and Duke Ellington (1998)-will love what they've done with Ella. Others may simply find themselves inspired by these tales of her genius for invention. Cool. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786805686
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/1/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Lexile: 520L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Davis Pinkney has written several acclaimed picture books, works of non fiction, and novels. Her titles for middle-grade readers include Solo Girl, Raven in a Dove House, Silent Thunder, and Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, a Coretta Scott King Honor winner. She is also the author of the picture books Alvin Ailey; Duke Ellington (a Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Honor Book); and Ella Fitzgerald, each illustrated by her husband and frequent collaborator, Brian Pinkney. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

Brian Pinkney (www.brianpinkney.net) is the illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Books Duke Ellington and The Faithful Friend, and the Coretta Scott King Award winner In the Time of the Drums.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A-Tisket, A-Tasket.

    Vibrant color illustrations to "woo" in readers are tucked in this beautiful book. The storyline allows the reader's imagination to soar along with the "First Lady of Song." A great way to introduce young readers to music from times past, could be done by using this tale. Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on 25 April 1917 in Newport News, Virginia and died on 15 June 1996 and her music has touched many as well as added to jazz's beauty for generations to come. *This is a wonderful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2010

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