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EconKids Home New Picture Books in 2010 (First Word Q-Z) Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald / by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald / by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Title: Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald
Author: Roxane Orgill
Illustrator: Sean Qualls
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-1733-2
Year: 2010

Concepts: poverty, scarcity, human resources

Review: With her extraordinary voice and improvisational ability, Ella Fitzgerald gained fame as the First Lady of Song. Behind the emotions and grit of her singing came a childhood marked by excitement from gaining exposure to the jazz bands of Harlem, as well as tremendous pain from losing her mother. Ella was just a teenager when her mother passed, but this tragedy marked a downward spiral for Ella into a life of poverty, petty crime, reform school, and homelessness.

At the age of seventeen, Ella had the chance to break free from this rut when she auditioned to appear in the Amateur Night competition at the new Apollo Theater in Harlem. Not only did she make the cut, she was voted top act and gained some much-needed exposure. Another amateur competition at the Harlem Opera House led to a spot on a band, which led to more attention and ultimately a long-term recording career as a premier vocalist.

Carefully researched and beautifully illustrated, this biographical picture book pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and helps children learn more about her early years. Clearly intertwined in the text are a series of economics lessons related to poverty and to career development. The book gets high marks for its fine blend of narrative and artistry.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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