Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe were mutual supporters according to this historical picture book.
Ella and Marilyn were different on the outside, but both were “full of hopes and dreams” while their circumstances were humble. After they got their big breaks, Ella in jazz singing and Marilyn in acting, each struggled to reach her full potential. In the United States, Ella faced barriers due to racism and places that only hired “glamorous” stars. Marilyn got plenty of roles, but as a woman in an industry run by men, she lacked control over her career. When she got a script with a big singing role, she listened to her favorite singer, Ella, to practice for it. The movie was a hit, and Marilyn was finally able to get her voice heard as a professional. She went to thank Ella in person at one of Ella’s shows, and the two talked into the night. When Marilyn learned of the barriers Ella faced, she used her star status to negotiate a performance for Ella at a popular nightclub. While Marilyn is shown attaining fame first, this warm story emphasizes Ella’s role in her success, thus avoiding the trap of the white-savior narrative. Many white artists have benefited from imitating black ones; this is the rare narrative to acknowledge that. Harris’ illustrations are stiff but engaging; saturated with color, they capture the iconic looks of the two stars.
A good volume to include in a larger conversation about friendship, allyship, and social justice.(author’s note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)