cover image A-TISKET, A-TASKET


Ella Fitzgerald, , illus. by Ora Eitan. . Philomel, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23206-0

Silkscreen-style images of New York City, picturing "soul food" signs and downtown icons like the Brooklyn Bridge, illustrate this rendition of Ella Fitzgerald's 1938 song. A boy in a blue baseball cap acts out the jazzy nonsense lyrics about "A-tisket, a-tasket, a green-and-yellow basket,/ I wrote a letter to my mommy,/ on the way I dropped it." As the boy looks for the wicker tote, an impish "little girlie" in pigtails grabs it and runs off, passing a street-corner fruit vendor and making for the park: "She was truckin' on down the avenue/ without a single thing to do." The boy throws a tantrum, but no one has seen his missing item. At last, with the Washington Square arch in the background, the girl gives the boy a flirty glance as her dog returns the basket. Eitan (Cowboy Bunnies) has the tall order of representing lively vocal improv on the pages of a picture book. While the mixed-media collages of people and cityscapes dance with energy, Fitzgerald's fans may wonder at Eitan's choice of a blond boy as the speaker, a silent African-American girl as his teasing counterpart (and playful thief). Monotone text and italics scroll along the bottom of the pictures, implying a call-and-response but flatly lacking in animation ("Was it blue? No, no, no, no. Just a little yellow basket"). There's little correlation graphically with the spontaneity of the scatting sound so closely associated with the First Lady of Song's delivery. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)