Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Etta Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe does a wonderful job bringing two women and their friendship to life while exploring the ways race and gender privilege and oppression influence their access to opportunities. Written by Vivian Kirkfield and illustrated by Alleanna Harris, this nonfiction children’s picture book draws subtle parallels between the early careers of singer Ella Fitzgerald and actress Marilyn Monroe. Although both women work hard to make their dreams come true and to share their talents with the world, in the 1950s, Ella Fitzgerald is presented with barriers that hinder access to her success, including clubs that refuse to hire black performers. Marilyn Monroe is able to use her white privilege and fame to help Fitzgerald secure carrier opportunities denied her because of race.
This book offers a lovely depiction of women inspiring and supporting each other. The fact that author an illustrator are able to work together to draw parallels as well as highlight differences between the stars is a plus. It gives children a critical introduction to the 1950s through the lives of familiar figures and will make a wonderful addition to school and public library collections.