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Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
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Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  154 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Jump At The Sun (first published April 1st 2002)
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This book is told from a cat's point of view. He tells about how Ella Fitzgerald came to find her talent in singing, and how she became famous. The cat began when Ella was a young girl living outside of New York, and she dreamed of becoming a famous dancer. She finally entered a dancing contest to make her break in the dancing world and she froze. But instead she began to sing. From then on she realized her dream of becoming a singer. She went on to become the queen of scat and one of the most f ...more
Kayla Davis
A sassy story based on the true life of singer, Ella Fitzgerald, as told through the eyes of a groovy cat who claims to have been there since the beginning. Ella starts out tapping on street corners with dreams of someday making it big, but soon discovers that singing is her true talent and claim to fame. Over the course of her career, Ella sings with various bands and excels in many styles, earning names like “the Queen” and “Vocal Virtuosa.” I thought this book was a great read and that the rh ...more
Summer Turner
Jun 30, 2014 Summer Turner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and fantastical telling of Ella Fitzgerald's life and career that is appealing both to children and adults!
The artwork was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance artists as well as the Art Deco movement, which helps to illustrate the time and place of Ella's story.
The nonfiction story of Ella Fitzgerald's rise to fame is told with a twist into fantasy through the Scat Cat narrator and the fanciful illustrations. Fun and little-known details are told which are interesting and inspiring for childr
Alexandria Stephens
This picture book about the life of Ella Fitzgerald is a lyrical picture book on the many accomplishments of such a talented jazz singer. Fitzgerald was born in New York in a poor neighborhood and aspired to be a dancer. Ella Fitzgerald may a life changing decision when she decided to relocated to Harlem and auditioned at the world famous Apollo Theater. Ella originally entered as a dance contestant but when she hit the stage her voice took over. The vibrant colors in the illustrations correlate ...more
Aliyah Inge-hanif
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrations by Brain Pinkney is biography. It is intended for ages five through nine years old. This book talks about the life of Ella Fitzgerald and her music career.

Oh do I love this book. It portrays Ella Fitzgerald as a very endearing character. The book made the point that a “true star” and talented had no skin color and shines through. The illustrations are very vibrant in a way that captures the eye and are inspir
Jul 24, 2010 Maryann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
It was clean, but I really didn't like it.
Miss Balzaretti
Andrea Pinkney’s picture book, Ella Fitzgerald; the Tale of a Vocal Virtousa, captures the spirit and talent of famous singer Ella Fitzgerald. The text is written from a third person Narrator named Scat Cat Monroe as he describes Ella’s musical career. The book’s text has a rhythm to it similar to the jazz genre. Pinkney uses different fount sizes and styles to depict certain aspects of the song. She also separates the story in different chapters labeled as tracks to keep to the musical theme of ...more
This book is in lyric song form. The illustrations are fun. They call Ella Scat Cat Monroe.
Track 1 Hoofin' in Harlem She loved to tap dance and wanted to become a dancer. "Determination was her teacher. The sidewalk was her stage. Imagination was her spotlight." She entered a talent contest and her feet wouldn't move so she started to sing. She won the contest hands down.
Track 2 Jammin' at Yale She started singed for the Chick Webb Orchestra because the knocked the socks off of the upity crowd
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney is the story of how Ella Fitzgerald became a famous jazz and blues singer. She grew up a poor girl in the town of Yonkers, NY. She dreamed of becoming a famous dancer; she even taught herself how to tap dance. As a young girl, Ella moved to Harlem, NY so that she might have a chance at making it big. In 1921, Ella entered a talent contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, she entered to tap-dance, but when the lights turned on ...more
Amy Keltner
Nov 28, 2011 Amy Keltner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1. Contemporary or Historical
2. Ella Fitzgerald is a wonderful African American Musician. Her story is told through the music that she sang. Taking you back in time and letting you feel the emotion that surrounds her.
3. a. The book is wonderful at explaining how Ella became who she was as told through the eyes of Scat the Cat. It has a strong theme of empowerment.
b. Ella came from hard times. She had to experience many things in order to have the audiences "eating out of her hand". It took a
Jordan Caton
Nov 10, 2011 Jordan Caton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my bibliography. It is about Ella Fitzgerald and her story of becoming a hit singer. It all started with cold feet when she tried to tap dance for a talent show. Once she realized she couldn't do it, she started to sing, and won the show. It went uphill from there. She started traveling and winning everything she competed in. One of these auditions in particular helped her progress very much. After she was introduced to the Chick Webb Orchestra, her and Chick hit it off. Together, they w ...more
Holly Hardwick
As someone that absolutely loves winding down by listening to jazz music and the smooth voice of Ella Fitzgerald, I was thrilled at the chance to read a children's picture book biography of her. Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney was not a disappointment. I loved that the book was set up in the form of a record with the "tracks" of her life listed in the table of contents, as well as the jazzy poetic form that the text took. I learned a lot of things about Ella ...more
Christina Baldridge
Nov 07, 2012 Christina Baldridge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel White
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa, is about Ella Fitzgerald and her story of becoming a hit singer. It all started with cold feet when she tried to tap dance for a talent show. Once she realized she couldn't do it, she started to sing, and won the show. It went uphill from there. She started traveling and winning everything she competed in. Therefore, she became a global legend, appealing to generations everywhere. I, personally, love her music and even sang it once in a pageant.

Jul 25, 2012 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plot Summary:
This book tells about Ella Fitzgerald’s life from the perspective of Scat Cat Monroe, a cool cat with cool vocabulary. It chronicles her life from childhood and follows her rise to popularity singing with Chick Webb and Dizzy Gillespie in scat, jazz, and bebop.
Personal Evaluation:
I love the story-telling style of Scat Cat, which gives this biography a fun quality that isn’t stuffy or dull at all. The pictures are also in bright, warm colors which make it visually appealing to childr
Dec 10, 2012 Kelsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of A Vocal Virtuoso by Andrea Davis Pinkney, is an amazing book about the great Ella Fitzgerald. With pictures done by Brian Pinkney, this book tells Ella’s story while giving the sense that you are actually with her while she is growing up. This book is told from the point of view of Scat Cat Monroe a fan of Ella’s from the beginning. The book is formatted as if it were a record with sections of the book organized into “Tracks” of Ella’s life.
From the beginning, Ella
Feb 16, 2009 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could have loved Ella Fitzgerald as much as Duke Ellington. The previous picture book, Duke Ellington, was just a wonderful picture book biography. A nice blend of story, jazz, and magic. This one...well...what can I doesn't quite work for me. I'll tell you why. It's narrated by a cat. I wish I could understand just why the author felt the need to insert a storytelling cat into the book, I really do. Because while the writing is nice--still rhythmic with touches of magic--the f ...more
Nathaniel Chattic
Grades: 2nd - 4th

There is a lot to like about this book. Perhaps the most interesting trait about it is the narrative choice the author makes to tell about Ella Fitzgerald. Creatively, it will draw in children and be informational and yet not boring. The narrator is "Scat Cat," a feline who relays the story of Ella, from a little girl to the "vocal virtuosa" she would eventually become. The story moves at a brisk pace, but is easy to follow. The text is enhanced by the art deco pictures that sur
Nov 18, 2015 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this, so I had some of Ella's music from different periods playing in the background. That was a huge plus. I did miss out on the illustrations, which I can tell from the cover, are gorgeous. I'm hoping to go take a look at the library a little later on. I learned a lot about EF's musical career and the music of that time period. It was paced well and would be interesting to children.
Anne Broyles
Mar 07, 2014 Anne Broyles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bright, bold colors in scratchboard and acrylic paintings highlight both the woman and her era. "Scat Cat" narrates Ella's story in what feels like period-true slang, and young readers can search for Scat Cat on every page. Author's Note, Illustrator's Note, bibliography and other resources included.
Dec 04, 2013 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-book-1
I was very, very excited when I found this book because I LOVE Ella Fitzgerald's music! I loved the way that the author told Ella's story. It was actually interesting; I have found that many biographies can be a little dry. I thought it was very creative that the story was told through the voice of "Scat Cat Monroe", and I loved the way that he spoke in "scat language".

I also loved the bold illustrations - the bold colors and portrayals of Ella are very fitting, if you listen to Ella's music! Th
Jennifer Kennedy
This book tracks the discovery and fame of the one and only Ella Fitzgerald:) It is told from the viewpoint of Scat Cat Monroe, a fancy feline that shares Ella’s story, “’Cause you see, I was there. From the get-go. I saw it all. Me. Scat Cat Monroe.” The biography is told in ‘tracks’ starting with the dream of a small time girl to one of the world’s most celebrated jazz-scat singer. The illustrations are larger than life. The illustrator, Brian Pinkney, brings the words on the page to life leav ...more
Apr 20, 2009 Ruth rated it liked it
If you are looking for a more adult-interest version of an Ella Fitzgerald bio, this is probably less interesting to you, but I picked it up (it's from the Jr. non-fiction section in the library) because I loved the art-work--done in scratchboard and then tinted with dyes and acrylics--and the fact that the story is told from the viewpoint of Scat Cat Monroe (illustrations feature and actual cat wearing a zoot suit!). Very cute. It takes maybe all of 5-10 minutes to read the whole thing. Fun to ...more
Apr 22, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-lit
What I liked most about this book was learning that Ella's development of her scat technique grew up in her collaboration with and response to Dizzy Gillespie's established presence in bebop. Brian Pinkney's use of scratchboard, like in the Duke Ellington book, reveals how much can be done with this medium - look, for example at the double-page spread of Ella and Chick Webb flying over the Savoy in Harlem. The background colors and energy of movement resonate with the music and woman at the hear ...more
Feb 07, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mc-literature
A beautiful biography about the First Lady of Song. "The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa" is told in four tracks and narrated by Scat Cat Monroe, a feline friend of Ella's! The story starts in Harlem, where we find out that Ella taught herself to tap-dance as she performed on street corners. We learn all about the details of her career leading up to her performance at Carnegie Hall.

Take your time with this picture book, as each page is filled with a few paragraphs! This book is for ages 5-9.
Mar 10, 2010 CH_Kathleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: info-bios
"Ella Fitzgerald The Tale of a Vocal Virtuoso" is a biography of Ella Fitzgerald's singing career. This book is an accurate depiction of Ella's singing career, but almost has too much about her career included in the book. The content of the book is great, but too much for a picture book. The text is rather small. This would definitely be for an 5th to 6th grade reading level. The illustrations are beautiful and use a lot of great color.
Brooke Jenkins
Sep 18, 2013 Brooke Jenkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
After reading this book, I realized that Ella Fitzgerald was a really amazing woman who overcame a lot of obstacles to achieve success. The story itself was really unique and I liked how the opening of the book was written in "Scat" lyrics. It could get a great discussion flowing about music and the Jazz culture. The "Cat" who narrated the book was a little tacky, but otherwise I really enjoyed it.
Very cool book - great job capturing the story of a woman and African American who made a huge impact on the world of Jazz. Great lyricism - scat-like in nature which would be great for introducing an into poetry and rhythm unit. Also great opportunity to play jazz in the classroom. Great image / story intersection. Good for read aloud discussion.
This book chronicles the life of Ella Fitzgerald in a simple manner where young students can understand. The book goes from her time as a struggling tap dancer to her being one of the most famous singers in history. I think this book would be a great read aloud in black history month and it is also a great book for me to integrate ELA with history.
Yulidy Decena
Nov 30, 2010 Yulidy Decena added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any age
Shelves: biography
It was a fun book. It told the story Ella Fitzgerald and how she became famous. The book itself is made in a way that kids may enjoy it, due to the cat that gives it an interesting spike and also because of the pictures.
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Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Duke Ellington, illustrated by Brian Pinkney; Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award; and Alvin Ailey, a Parenting Publication Gold medal winne ...more
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