Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song

illus. by Brian Pinkney. 40p. chron. discography. further reading. Little, Brown. Aug. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-316-07013-3. LC 2012005499.
RedReviewStarGr 2–4—As in Sit-In (Little, Brown, 2010), the Pinkneys present important figures and a pivotal moment during the Civil Rights Movement in a fresh and visually compelling manner. Readers are invited to follow a path and a dove throughout-both images being rich in multiple meanings. The narrative starts with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s upbringing, which trained him to speak the gospel. Rendered in cool blues and greens, the fluid watercolor and ink compositions are less about capturing a likeness than conveying the charisma and soul of this preacher. Mahalia Jackson is portrayed in warm oranges and reds. (When together, purples envelope the pair.) Readers learn that she sang the gospel, from church choirs to recordings, and performances for presidents. Overlaid with ribbons of key words and rounded lines suggesting ripples from the characters' auras, the pictures provide emotional content for the author's smart and stylized descriptions. This fascinating new lens for children on the often-depicted "Dream" speech during the March on Washington reveals how Jackson's powerful voice stilled the crowds for King's: "She rolled her brass and butter with a MIGHTY DOSE OF THUNDER." Author and artist indicate how, in the call-and-response manner so familiar to both, it was Jackson who admonished King to, "TELL THEM ABOUT YOUR DREAM, MARTIN!" Ideas and fervor build and important phrases appear in bold colors. Historical context and artistic inspirations wrap up this informative approach to the two icons and the effect of their partnership on history.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

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