Cover image for Ella Fitzgerald the tale of a vocal virtuosa
Ella Fitzgerald the tale of a vocal virtuosa
Pinkney, Andrea Davis.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[Weston, CT] : Weston Woods/Scholastic, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 audiocassette : analog + 1 book (1 volumes (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm)
A brief recounting of the career of this jazz musician in the voice of "Scat Cat Monroe".
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, c2002. 1st ed.

"Read-along cassette."

Side 1 with page-turn signals.
Reading Level:
520 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.5 0.5 60673.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.6 2 Quiz: 31685 Guided reading level: P.
Personal Subject:

Format :
Sound Cassette

Sound Recording


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3930.F5 P56 2003C Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. "She sang like tomorrow wasn't ever gonna come." Introducing himself as a feline fan--a hepcat--who was there throughout Fitzgerald's musical career, purple-suited Scat Cat Monroe (who gets credit on the title page) narrates this picture-book biography that captures the "vocal virtuosa's" energy and genius. The lengthy text, filled with jazzy colloquialisms, keeps its focus solidly on the music, describing the thrill of Fitzgerald's performances in language that rhymes and slides with the swinging beat of its subject and places readers at the center of the action. Younger children won't understand the sense in many of the phrases, but heard aloud, the rhythm in the words will give them a feel for the music; older readers will enjoy both the similarities to rap and spoken-word poetry: "Beebop was jazz on the wild side. . . . It was slam-bamming on the flitter-tip. It was ham-cock-jabber. Fever. Pitch." In his familiar scratchboard style, Brian Pinkney shows the kinetic excitement and joy in swirling portraits that spin and blaze with cool colors and eye-popping patterns. Cue up the music and read this one out LOUD. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.