ella-fitzgerald

Growing up is hard.

Sad, but true; you might have to go through disappointments. Other kids might call you names or pick on you. Things won’t always go your way, but the good news is that your parents will help you through the bad times and, as you’ll see in the new book “Ella Fitzgerald,” by Stéphane Olliver and illustrated by Rémi Courgeon, you’ll also have yourself to rely on.

Born in Virginia in April 1917, Ella Fitzgerald was just a little girl when her parents split. Hoping to find a job, her mother took little Ella to New York, where they settled with family; she married again and Ella soon became a big sister.

Life was good then, but it still wasn’t easy. Most of the people in her neighborhood—and there were lots of them, from many cultures—were poor. Ella’s family was, too, but Ella was a happy kid who loved to play baseball with the boys and she took odd jobs after school to help earn money for her family.

While she was doing that, she began to get a “real taste for…music.” She loved to listen to it on the radio: Duke Ellington, blues and ballads were all her favorites. Fitzgerald liked to sing along and she became “the star of the school choir.” When she wasn’t singing, she was dancing, but Fitzgerald never thought she was any good.

Even so, everybody enjoyed watching her and she became locally famous for her fancy footwork. She wanted to be a professional dancer, but the one time she entered a contest, she got scared: the act before her was very talented, and she knew she’d never win against them. So when Fitzgerald got onstage, she opened her mouth and did the other thing she was known for––she sang.

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