'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 10 September 2018

Review: Ella Queen of Jazz

This wonderful picture book is about the First Lady of Song - Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald. 

The fantastic layout has taken into consideration the target audience, using mostly illustrated images to fill the pages, with minimal and simple text to make it accessible to young readers. 

This opens up an avenue of the past; a learning experience about a treasured voice and her unforgettable contribution to the world.

Ella Fitzgerald got her break when she won the first prize on Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre when she was a young teenager. 

This prize pushed her into the light and she was invited to join Chick Webb’s band in 1935. It seemed that her destiny was already set out for her, as she replaced Chick as band leader when he died four years later. She changed the name of the band and they recorded over 100 songs together until she left to follow a solo career in 1942.

This story reflects on the difficulties that Ella faced due to her skin colour. Lots of clubs turned her away regardless of her obvious talent. Marilyn Monroe admired Ella’s voice. The fame that Marilyn had won was used to influence night club owners. Her presence opened doors for Ella and her band that had been shut against them for racial reasons.

This book is about music, racism, acceptance and the quality of a person versus their origins.  It is beautifully presented with a gorgeous jacket depicting Ella in front of a microphone. The actual cover of the book is even better. It is filled with records, album covers, record players, books, flags, a picture of Ella on the cover of  Life magazine, and postcards against what seems to be another huge record.

This book is printed on fine quality matt paper and will be a fine addition to the shelves of book collectors, music lovers, and children with a thirst for knowledge about the past and its gifts left to us to find.

Title: Ella Queen of Jazz
Author/Illustrator: Helen Hancocks
Publisher: Frances Lincoln, $17.99
Publication Date: April 2018
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781847809186
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book