#PPBF – Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat – Ella Fitzgerald

Yay! Double Yay! I’m continuing my non-fiction picture book review journey with an awesome book that came out in 2010.

But first I wanted to share a really fun blog series that a friend of mine, Penny Parker Klostermann, is doing. Every week, on her blog, a penny and her jots, she and her great-nephew collaborate – she writes a little poem and he draws a picture to go with it. AND GUESS WHAT???? Penny invited me and my six-year old grandson to participate – TODAY! So if you have a minute, please click on the link and enjoy A Sweet Dessert.

It was lots of fun working together with Jeremy – kids totally enjoy the time they spend with you…especially if you are enjoying the time as well. Do you love to cook or bake? Your child would love to help. Is walking through the woods more your style? Take your kids with you and see the world with fresh young eyes again. Crazy about music? Turn up the rock, pop, jazz, classical or whatever gets you moving…your children will dance their socks off.

And speaking of music, here’s our Perfect Picture Book for today.

skit skat

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald

Written by Roxane Orgill

Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Publisher: Candlewick Press (2010)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes: Pursuing your dream, overcoming adversity, music


Opening Lines:

“Ella cranked the handle on the phonograph, and the three Boswell Sisters crooned, with honey in their voices:

When I take my sugar to tea, All the girls are jealous of me…

Her mother, Tempie, sang along in her sweet high voice, and Ella danced. Over and over they played the record.”


Ella Fitzgerald sang and danced on the sidewalks of New York City to earn a few coins. Hard luck and hard times were a part of her young life, but Ella loved to dance and she loved to sing. She watched and listened to the musicians and dancers who performed on the stages in Harlem and when opportunity knocked, Ella was always ready to take a leap of faith.

Why I like this book:

  • I loved hearing Ella’s story of overcoming adversity – many times when we see celebrities, we don’t realize that their success was not easily come by
  • The text is engaging and exciting – a definite page-turner
  • Bold yet simple illustrations help the reader connect with Ella’s emotional journey throughout the book – I love the spread where she is peeking from behind a curtain at the Apollo Theater, watching dancers performing for an amateur night.



How a parent can use this book:

  • Launchpad for a discussion on overcoming any problem that faces us
  • Talk about various types of music – you can watch performances of Ella Fitzgerald (and probably any other singer) on YouTube
  • Encourage your child to dream – we can be whatever we want to be
  • At the back of the book, parents and teachers will find a helpful biography with sources for further reading, listening and viewing.
  • To find out more about Ella Fitzgerald and the charitable foundation she established: ellafitzgerald.com




Related Activity:

Amateur Night at the Theater

Why not get into the swing of things? All you need: a microphone (pretend one is fine), some music, and a few willing entertainers.

Most kids love to perform – everyone gets a chance to sing, dance, read a poem, or whatever. After the audience applauds and the performer takes a bow, you can share some theater (homemade) popcorn!

Here’s a YouTube video with some old photos, footage and music from Ella’s Savoy Theater performances with the Chick Webb Band.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on January 23, 2015, in Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture book reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I love Ella FItzgerald! Can’t wait to check this one out. Thanks for sharing.


  2. My kind of book. Had not seen this one. Love to read stories of important musicians like Ella.


  3. What a very cool story. Love the cover illustration. Love bio’s like this. Thanks Vivian.


  4. Great story and book to share. Thanks Vivian. Now I’m off to read your work at Penny’s.


  5. fun story, great splash of color! And the title is really fun to say.


    • The title sure was catchy…I know that so many PiBoIdMo guest posters, as well as every picture book writing teacher I’ve had, talk about how important a title is…it grabs your attention and might be the reason you pick the book up. Thanks so much for stopping by, Sue. 🙂


  6. A tisket, a tasket. Oh how I love Ella Fitzgerald. There was a fabulous exhibit about her years ago at the Smithsonian American History Museum. Thanks for this recommendation.


  7. LOVE that title – just that sold me. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!


  1. Pingback: PB 14:14 – Day 4 – Top 10 Picture Book Story Elements – Word Play | Picture Books Help Kids Soar

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