Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald


Title: Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald

Author: Roxane Orgill

Illustrator: Sean Qualls

Publisher and Year: Candlewick Press, 2010

Number of Pages: 38

Genre: Biography

Analysis: Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald is a biography about Ella Fitzgerald and her swing dancing and singing career. The book goes through a timeline of events throughout her life, some that were challenging, some that were joyful, but all ending with success.

This book could function as a window for many people who are not sure of who Ella Fitzgerald is. Throughout the book the audience can learn about Ella Fitzgerald as a person, her career, success, family and much more. Not only can this book function as a window, but it can also function as a mirror for African American young girls who love singing and dancing. After reading this book, young girls can feel encouraged to continue pursuing their passion like Ella did. Young girls may feel exhilarated or confident after reading about Ella’s success singing and dancing.


Perceptually, this book has an entertaining and engaging front cover along with a fun title that children will enjoy reading because of the phonics. Initially, the audience is not able to tell that the book is also about dancing, one may simply think that this book is only about singing. While first seeing the front cover, the reader may think that this book is fiction and not a true story about Ella Fitzgerald. It isn’t until reading the first few pages that the true story begins to emerge.

Structurally, there are a lot of words per page resulting in the reading of each page being quite lengthy. However, the author is sharing a lot of information about Ella Fitzgerald. The images throughout the book are unframed, allowing the audience to feel included in the action and connected with Ella Fitzgerald as a book character. Throughout the book, the illustrator portrays a variety of facial expressions, which are understandable to all audiences. The audience can connect with Ella and her story while reading the book because of the true story and connections that can be made throughout the book.


Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald ideologically portrays a positive message for young girls, however, there is also a negative lesson. First, the story of Ella Fitzgerald and all of her hard work and success can be inspirational for all girls. This book can teach girls to never give up on their dreams because with hard work they can be successful in whatever they do. A negative lesson seen in the book is that Ella disobeyed the law multiple times resulting in her being sent to a school for orphans. Reading this book, children can understand that even though Ella disobeyed the law she was still very successful.

Alex the Parrot: No ordinary bird


Author: Stephanie Spinner

Illustrator: Meilo So

Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2012

Number of pages: 38

Genre: Non-fiction


Alex the Parrot is a short chapter book with pictures that describes the life of the African Grey Macaw Alex and his handler Irene Pepperberg. It tells of Irene’s experiments with Alex in order to prove that birds are smart creatures capable of understanding human concepts such as colors, numbers, and shapes.

This book functions as a window or door into the scientific community. The main culture addressed and discussed in the book is that of Irene and her experiences and observations in the scientific field. At many points in the book, it is discussed that Irene has to do certain things in order to ensure that her research will be respected. The book displays scientific culture as something that is easily understandable to children and explains processes Irene follows in a way that is easier for students to understand. The pictures themselves do little to add to the story itself but enhance the overall experience of the book.


The text is broken into smaller three to five sentence paragraphs and each page typically has two to five small paragraphs on it. Having the text broken up in such a way is conducive for a children’s literature book because it allows children to digest the harder information in smaller doses. The pictures are done in a sort of watercolor style and while the humans seem more cartoonish, Alex and any other animals look very realistic. This adds to the readers understanding and visualization that all the events discussed in the books actually occurred. The illustrator uses large pictures and bright colors to capture attention of the reader. The illustrator also uses humor in some instances to break up larger portions of text and keep the reader interested.

The book itself is a truthful retelling of Irene’s experiment and discusses Alex’s death and his death’s impact on the future the experiment. This book is a good tool to use and have in a classroom and is suitable for many ages. This book can function as a stepping stone into discussion of many different aspects of the scientific field. Some examples include experimentation hypothesis process, validity of an experiment, or the general topic of animal brain function. Overall, this book can serve a way to get children interested in scientific topics.

The Herd Boy

the herd boy

Author/ Illustrator: Niki Daly

Publishing Information: Frances Lincoln Limited, 2012

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book


the herd boy 2


Malusi is a South African herd boy. The job is very hard but he does it very well. He and his friend both have their own dreams. While his friend Lungisa wants to be a soccer player, Malusi wants to be president when he grows up.

This book demonstrates multiculturalism through a typical day of a South African herb boy Malusi. The text functions as a window for children to notice and explore the differences in the world. On the other side of the earth, there are different types of food, different clothes, and people with different skin color speaking different language. The kids there do not live in fancy houses. They get up early to work instead of rushing to catch the school bus in order not to be late. They take care of animals not for fun but for a living. This book was published just a few years ago. However, I can hardly find any modern elements from both texts and illustrations. It shows children that people elsewhere are living a very different life. People can be different in various ways but dreams are universal.

I found one of the plots in this story problematic. Children might be confused when they saw Nelson Mandela in “a shiny new car” with a man in suit driving for him (p. 21). On one hand, the strong contrast between the car and “the dirt road” reveal the gap between different classes. On the other hand, it is a symbol for a hope of development country, both in wealth and in technology. I think a better way to express this plot is to talk more about how Nelson Mandela gets to his place and further specify the necessary characteristics of leadership.

Perceptually, the book uses narrative sentences to tell a relatively complete story. Almost all of the colors in the book are dark which reflects the relatively poor living condition. The pictures in the book are not framed but the text and images are completely separated which construct the feeling of looking into another world and another culture. The horizon exists all the time except for the last picture which depicted Malusi’s dream. Structurally, the text and images do not overlap. Ideologically, the story encourages children to be brave. When facing difficulties, keep calm and find the best solution. At the same time, it is okay to have dreams and fight for them — even if they seem to be unreachable right now.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Title: Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

IMG_5975Author: Michelle Markel

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013

Number of pages: 32 pages

Tags: Culture, Emotion, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, 2-3, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Biography


Clara Lemlich was an immigrant that came to America in hopes of a better life. She was unaware that immigrant women were hired into garment workshops to make blouses and other articles of clothing. After realizing that the conditions in which she and millions of other women worked, she lead many revolts and strikes to change the conditions of their work.

This children’s book allows students to see the struggles of the immigrants in the 1900’s first hand, especially those of women. The culture of America is represented in this story, focusing on the industrial movement during this time period. Students are able to grasp the values of the United States through the pictures as well as the text. Readers can see the value of mass production in the illustrator’s depiction of the workshops. The distribution of power in this story shifts from the owners of the garment shops to those who work are employed in these shops. Before Clara leads the revolts, the garment shop owners are in complete control of the conditions and hours the immigrant women were to work. After the story, we see the power shift to the immigrant workers as they battled for their rights.

Looking at the pictures closely, students can get a feel for the conditions many immigrants faced. FoIMG_5976r example, when Clara arrives in America on the boat, the illustrator included an image of the long line of people waiting on the boat for their new life in America. The text is displayed on a stitched piece of fabric that connects to the main theme of the story very well. The pictures are often sewn into the text, making them resemble a quilt. Clara is often found looking or moving to the right of the page, signifying the change that is going to happen. The author uses many adjectives that emphasize the struggles Clara and her colleagues faced. For example, when Clara first arrives, the author introduces her as dirt poor and five feet tall. Ideologically, this story has many things that children can take away after reading. First and foremost, this book gives the students a historical look into the life of immigrants, especially those of women. This book focuses on the hardships and challenges that Clara faced with work and learning to speak English. Secondly, it shows students how important it is to stand up for what they know is right. If Clara were not to stand up for what she believed was right, many workers would have suffered for a longer period of time. Even after Clara faced many arrests, beatings, and threats to be fired, she kept the fight for her rights alive. It proves that determination and perseverance can lead to change for what is right.  At the end of the book, readers are introduced to more information about the garment industry that can further their understanding on the topic.