Ella Queen of Jazz

Helen Hancocks. Frances Lincoln, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-84780-918-6
Despite the title, Hancocks’s story largely revolves around the friendship that developed between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. Touring the U.S. with her band, Fitzgerald was denied the opportunity to perform at a Hollywood nightclub (“Ella was black, and some folks didn’t want her singing in their club”). Monroe to the rescue: “If she plays, I will sit at the front every night for all the people and paparazzi to see,” she tells the club manager. The history surrounding Fitzgerald being turned away from the club, and whether it had to do with her race, isn’t entirely certain; light on details and featuring invented dialogue, Hancocks’s account doesn’t add any real clarity. Splashy graphics do a fine job of evoking 1950s glamour, but the book is more a warm portrait of two famous women helping each other out than a source of much information about either star. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/18/2017
Release date: 02/06/2018
Genre: Children's
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