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Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald

Last updated Thursday, February 24, 2011

Author: Roxane Orgill
Illustrator: Sean Qualls
Date of Publication: 2010
ISBN: 0763617334
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2011

Synopsis: From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6 As the title cleverly indicates, this book describes how the poor, raggedy cat scat-sang her way into jazz history. Orgill begins with Fitzgerald as a child dancing to her mother's records and closes with the 21-year-old woman joining the Chick Webb Band in Harlem. The interim includes frank, but not frightening, descriptions of Fitzgerald's tenure in an abusive orphanage and of the impoverished days when she slept where she could and sang on the streets for money. The prose account of Fitzgerald's life often includes sound effects that recall her unique vocal style. For instance, she does not run away from the orphanage, she dashes off in a skit-scat skedaddle. Snatches of her famous songs are woven throughout the narrative. Meanwhile, Qualls firmly establishes himself as a leading illustrator of jazz biographies for children. He uses rich reds and blues to illustrate the history of this quintessentially American art form, just as he did for Jonah Winter's Dizzy (Scholastic, 2006) and Carole Boston Weatherford's Before John Was a Jazz Giant (Holt, 2008). His mixed media of acrylic, collage, and pencil capture the richness of Fitzgerald's life and song. The back matter provides plenty of resources for further reading, listening, and Web exploration.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is Ella Fitzgerald?
•  What is skit-skat?

Vocabulary Words:
•  Turban

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you know where NYC is?
•  What is a record player?
•  What is a dippee-do?
•  What is something you have heard about that you would like to see?
•  Who is Charles Lindberg?
•  What do you want to be when you grow up?
•  What are some challenges Ella had to overcome?
•  Do you like to perform for people?
•  Who is Ella's role model?
•  Who is your role model?

Craft ideas:
•  Dream Boards. Create a board that shows your goals and dreams.
•  Make your own CD cover. List the titles of each song.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!