Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald

Overview

A swinging bio of young Ella Fitzgerald, who pushed through the toughest of times to become one of America?s most beloved jazz singers.

When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, passersby said good-bye to their loose change. But for a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough. One amateur night at Harlem?s Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her...

See more details below
Paperback
$4.49
BN.com price
(Save 10%)$4.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (16) from $2.55   
  • New (11) from $2.55   
  • Used (5) from $3.44   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...

Overview

A swinging bio of young Ella Fitzgerald, who pushed through the toughest of times to become one of America’s most beloved jazz singers.

When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, passersby said good-bye to their loose change. But for a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough. One amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her feet could travel up and out of her mouth in a powerful song —and the feeling of being listened to was like a salve to her heart. With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb’s band and all the way to her number-one radio hit "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer’s indomitable spirit to life.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Orgill’s (Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire) fine biography of the singer crackles with tension and verve. Orphaned at 14, Ella bounces from unfeeling relatives to an orphanage, then to Harlem’s Seventh Avenue: “People took her in, gave her a meal and a bed. Or didn’t. In 1934, half of Harlem was out of work.” Many virtues distinguish Orgill’s writing: precious fragments of historical detail, flirtations with the flash of the spoken word (“He had a drumroll like a burst of gunfire”), and, most of all, heart (“This young lady’s got a gift she’d like to share with us tonight,” says an emcee when Fitzgerald falters at an early performance. “She’s just having a little trouble getting it out of its wrapper”). Qualls (Dizzy) creates spreads that reflect the propulsive trajectory of Fitzgerald’s life in an age when everybody was dancing; successive portraits show her turning page by page into a star. A puzzle: despite the title, there’s no mention of Fitzgerald’s scat singing. Readers won’t mind, though. An unforgettable portrait of an artist whose faith in herself carried her when little else did. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Marcie Flinchum Atkins
Ella Fitzgerald was not born to a privileged family. She did not take music lessons nor did she have many opportunities to nourish her talents, but she did have a mother who loved music. But when Ella's mother died, so did her security. Ella lived on the street, still hanging onto her love of jazz, auditioning at amateur competitions until she was noticed. She had nothing of material value, but her love and musical talent helped her rise to stardom. Orgill's lengthy but informative text has a rhythm to it. Scattered with jazz songs, the reader gets a feel for the rhythm of the jazz music that Fitzgerald loved so much. The text is also full of details that make this biography sing. The back matter includes references to other books about Fitzgerald, a list containing a selection of her albums, Internet resources and recommended films. Qualls' illustrations show the fluid movement of this jazz sensation. Highly recommended for classrooms, libraries, and gift giving to children who love music or inspirational biographies. Reviewer: Marcie Flinchum Atkins
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—As the title cleverly indicates, this book describes how the poor, "raggedy cat" scat-sang her way into jazz history. Orgill begins with Fitzgerald as a child dancing to her mother's records and closes with the 21-year-old woman joining the Chick Webb Band in Harlem. The interim includes frank, but not frightening, descriptions of Fitzgerald's tenure in an abusive orphanage and of the impoverished days when she slept where she could and sang on the streets for money. The prose account of Fitzgerald's life often includes sound effects that recall her unique vocal style. For instance, she does not run away from the orphanage, she dashes off in a "skit-scat skedaddle." Snatches of her famous songs are woven throughout the narrative. Meanwhile, Qualls firmly establishes himself as a leading illustrator of jazz biographies for children. He uses rich reds and blues to illustrate the history of this quintessentially American art form, just as he did for Jonah Winter's Dizzy (Scholastic, 2006) and Carole Boston Weatherford's Before John Was a Jazz Giant (Holt, 2008). His mixed media of acrylic, collage, and pencil capture the richness of Fitzgerald's life and song. The back matter provides plenty of resources for further reading, listening, and Web exploration.—Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY
Kirkus Reviews

The author of accomplished biographies about Mahalia Jackson, Fred and Adele Astaire and others contributes a gem about Fitzgerald's early life in Yonkers and Harlem. The lively writing sings and swings along with Ella, who entertained schoolmates and danced for coins with her friend Charlie. Her mother's untimely death engendered many bad turns: Petty crime earned Ella time in a cruelly operated orphanage upstate. Orgill clearly shows that Fitzgerald's career and success were built on the winning combination of superb talent and sheer determination, with the teen, close to homeless, entering and winning amateur contests in Harlem. "She'd had a dancing beat in her feet ever since she was a bitty girl in Yonkers, and all she ever needed was a chance to send that beat traveling up through her body, into her throat, and out her mouth in a song." Qualls's sweet pictures, in signature tints of red and blue, convey the excitement of Harlem nightspots and provide pensive takes on the tough times Ella endured. The excellent annotated bibliography includes books, sound and video recordings and websites. (Picture book/biography. 5-11)

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763664589
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 12/26/2012
  • Series: Candlewick Biographies Series
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 541,396
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

"Although I’d known Ella Fitzgerald’s singing for ages, I didn’t ‘get’ her until I saw a film clip of her singing ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket’ standing in the aisle of a bus. She was both guileless child and determined adult, a combination I had never encountered in all the singers I had known or researched." —Roxane Orgill

Roxane Orgill is an award-winning writer on music and the author of several biographies for young readers, including MAHALIA: A LIFE IN GOSPEL MUSIC AND FOOTWORK: THE STORY OF FRED AND ADELE ASTAIRE. She is also the author of DREAM LUCKY, a book for adults about big-band jazz, race, and politics in the 1930s. She lives in New York City.

Sean Qualls is the illustrator of many books for children, including DIZZY; BEFORE JOHN WAS A JAZZ GIANT: A SONG OF JOHN COLTRANE; THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA: A BIOGRAPHY OF JUAN FRANCISCO MONZANO; and PHILLIS'S BIG TEST. He lives in Brooklyn.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Ella!

    . This is a wonderful and comprehensive book on the late, great Ella Fitzgerald. . During the depression, this young woman, against all odds, survived and flourished because of hard work, amazing talent and spirit. . While it's a picture book, it has quite a lot of text, so it is best used with an older audience. . This will make a great addition to a "Great Americans" shelf or "Amazing Women in History" shelf in your library, Black History month or not. Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald is an amazing biography of a trail-blazing woman of color, who against all odds and with an amazing amount of hard work, found her way, first, to survival, and then to fame and fortune. Ella was a personal favorite of my late father, and full disclosure, I was weaned on her music. That said, I had no idea of her life until I read this wonderful book. What a life she led! Ella faced enormous odds. Her mother died at a young age, her guardian fed her and clothed her, but did not do much more than that. But Ella's feet wouldn't stop moving to the beat of the new jazz she was hearing coming from that magical place, Harlem. Ella ended up in a school for orphans, but made a remarkable escape from that lonely and terrifying place, and headed straight to her promised land, 125th Street. After a LOT of hard work, sometimes even living on the street, Ella ended up at the Apollo theartre, and the rest, as they say, is history! This lovely biography tells her story respectfully, with outstanding artwork that jumps off the page. I especially liked how the author took Ella's story to a new audience, children, and made it very easy for them to read and understand it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)