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Ella Fitzgerald


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About 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 ( 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.


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.

The talented husband-and-wife team behind Duke Ellington turns to jazz biography once again, this time showcasing the First Lady of Song. Narrated by Scat Cat Monroe, a feline in a zoot suit, the book spins four "tracks" on Fitzgerald's life, from her childhood in Yonkers performing on street corners, to her discovery at a 1934 talent contest at the legendary Apollo Theatre to her move into the "ping-pong rhythms" of bebop. Whether swinging at the Savoy "to a house packed tighter than the A train" or breaking the racial barrier at many clubs ("Ella's popularity showed them that a true star has no color it just shines"), the singer's career is expertly framed to fit a picture book format. The prose, while occasionally labored, swings to a syncopated beat and piles on the synesthesia ("Ella rolled out a tune sweet enough to bake"; "Her voice was quick-fried rhythm, with a brassy satin twist"). Brian Pinkney turns out some of his best work yet. Rendered in a pleasingly high-contrast palette of pastels, the scratchboard illustrations are invested with magical realism, complete with dancers flying off the pages and topsy-turvy musicians. A particularly memorable spread about Ella's hit "How High the Moon" launches her into space on a trumpet with Dizzy Gillespie. A "skippity-hop-doo-dee-bop" picture book. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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