Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song

Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-07013-3
The Pinkneys (Hand in Hand) return with a vibrant, upbeat tribute to two prominent civil rights figures and friends, preacher Martin Luther King Jr. and singer Mahalia Jackson. Both used their powerful voices to stir people to action: “Martin’s sermons and Mahalia’s spirituals told their listeners: You are here./ On the path./ Come along./ Step proud./ Stand strong./ Be brave./ Go with me.” Brian Pinkney’s illustrations reflect their partnership, as swirling swaths of color (greens and blues for King’s pages, reds and oranges for Jackson’s) meld into purple-magenta hues in spreads featuring them together. The line between illustration and narrative is satisfyingly blurred, e.g., bold colors highlight some words in the text, while the stylized watercolors incorporate words and phrases. Buoyant brushstrokes curl and circle upward, arrows curve and point. In each scene, an encircled dove flies along these looping lines, pointing the way to the book’s culmination, the March on Washington. Author and illustrator notes provide additional biographical information and explain the artwork’s symbolism in detail. An extensive resource list rounds out the concluding material. Ages 6–up. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/17/2013
Release date: 07/30/2013
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