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Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Candlewick Biographies: Ella Fitzgerald Hardcover – December 26, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About 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.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Series: Candlewick Biographies
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (December 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763664596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763664596
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,621,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
While browsing the exhibits at the American Library Association Conference last week I discovered this neat little paperbound book on one of my favorite jazz vocalists – Ella Fitzgerald. Apparently the book was published in hardback in 2010 but this is the later paperback version. One of most overlooked Ella CDs is one for kids that I reviewed a few years back. I used it to introduce friends’ children to her amazing scat singing (and swinging; Ella could swing with the best of them!).

Author Roxanne Orgill, tells Ella’s story from the first time she heard a Boswell Sister’s record when she was about eight years old, and fell in love with swing music, until she was hired by the drummer and bandleader Chick Webb in 1938. (The book ends just before Webb died in 1939 and the band’s name was changed to “Ella and her Famous Orchestra”). The narrative is written so it can be easily read by a parent as a child – the book is aimed at ages 6 to 10 – can see the colorful illustrations. The author quotes from three songs that Ella sang during those years. This could easily be an “interactive” reading if the parent were to to download Ella’s 1938 hit record “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” and play the recording after the story ends. It the kind of catchy number that kids love and just could lead to a new generation of Ella fans.

The book includes, not only an index (though I’m not sure that serves much purpose), but a bibliography of other children’s books on Ella, some SERIOUS – and expensive – reference books about her, and a well-chosen “selected further listening” section.

This book has a list price of under $5.00 and is certainly an affordable start to a jazz music education. As a music journalist, well-versed in jazz, I’m impressed with the whole package.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm an elementary music teacher who uses the Share the Music textbook series. There is a great listening clip of Ella Fitzgerald singing a Tisket a Tasket in the Valentine's Day section of the first grade book. For years I have struggled to find something online for my students to look at to learn more about Ella Fitzgerald than the 2 sentences in the student books. This book is just what I needed! It is written at their level and ties into what the students have been doing in other classes to celebrate black history month. Music teacher approved!
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Format: Paperback
Definitely would not recommend buying this book for the little ones. I thought it was inappropriate for Roxane Orgills to speak of Ella as being 'not pretty' and having raggedy clothes, a big mouth, and squinty eyes, but 'she sure could dance!' Not at all. Not good for black babies needing see positive reflections of themselves in literature and life period. If you are going to be a non-black person writing a book on a black musicians, regardless of how much you know about their music, you really need to keep your white lens of the world out of it.
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Format: Paperback
From its energetic cover to the lyric writing style ("Ella was a rough-tough raggedy cat on the outside , but inside she was milky and silky and soft and shy"(13).) this 42 page book introduces young readers (I'd say it's perfect for readers 8-12) to Ella Fitzgerald. I was impressed at how the author handled some delicate issues, keeping in mind her audience. Ella had a rough childhood and run ins with the law. When her mother dies, Ella is left with her mom's boyfriend, who "didn't treat her kindly"(10). Without ignoring the issues, the author doesn't overwhelm the reader with them.

This book is a gorgeous mix of lilting phrase and funky, lively illustration that reminds me of Jacob Lawrence's artistic style. I notice in another review that book got a music teacher's stamp of approval, which makes me feel even more confident in recommending it to older elementary and early middle school readers. It shows that hard work and talent (and luck, which you might have to make yourself) can take you where you want to go.

About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: sent to me by the publisher
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There are a few odd passages that focus on Ella's lack of good looks, which is an odd message to send regarding a woman who was so immensely talented. Still, the book introduced my daughters to Ella Fitzgerald, which I appreciate.
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