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Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgeraldby Roxane Orgill
Synopses & Reviews
A swinging bio of young Ella Fitzgerald, who pushed through the toughest of times to become one of Americas 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 Harlems 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 Webbs 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 singers indomitable spirit to life.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Orgill and Qualls deliver a swinging biography of young Ella Fitzgerald who pushed through the toughest of times to become one of America's most beloved jazz singers. Full color.
About the Author
"Although Id known Ella Fitzgeralds singing for ages, I didnt ‘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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