Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. 2002. Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa.

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 framework of the story just taints the experience for me.

You may think I look like any other cat.
But, baby, I'm in a class all by myself.
Scat Cat's my name. Scat Cat Monroe.
A name I've earned.
Got my name from knowin' Ella.
Ella Fitzgerald. The Queen of Scat.
What's scat? you ask.
Scat's the sound that don't hold back.
Ella's sound--that was scat.
Singing so supreme.
Music's velvet-ribbon dream.

Let me tell you Ella's story.
'Cause, you see, I was there. From the get-go.
I saw it all. Me. Scat Cat Monroe.
I watched Ella go from a small-town girl to the First Lady of Song.
To a Vocal Virtuousa, bar none.

I liked the language, the style. There's no denying Pinkney's great at knowing what to say, what word to use to get the right effect. I am just not feeling Scat Cat Monroe.

So I enjoyed this one. I didn't hate it. I hope I don't give off that impression. But I would have loved this one more if only...if only...

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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