Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Change. Strength. Unity. Love." Book Review

"On the path.
To the dream.
To the words.
And the songs."

Intertwining the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahalia Jackson in this picture book biography by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkey was a superb idea.  I had never heard of Mahalia Jackson (don't judge!), but as soon as I saw this book, it was a done deal that I would get to know her.  It was interesting to find out how she and Martin supported each other through the vocalizing of their beliefs; his words, her song (as the subtitle states).

The reader finds out how Martin and Mahalia faced inequality from a young age, used their voices to spread the gospel, had fulfilling careers, and united for civil rights.

The text of the story is rich, with Pinkney using metaphors, such as "brass and butter" to describe Mahalia's strong and smooth voice.  She connects Martin and Mahalia with "the gift of gospel" in the beginning and then continues to connect them with words such as "proud," "strong," and "freedom."   Mahalia was with Martin at the March on Washington--her song quieting the thousands in attendance, so that Martin could voice his dream.

Brian Pinkney's illustrations flow smoothly with his wife's text.  Pinkney's unique style shines through, but manage a twist incoporating the words and song of Martin and Mahalia.  The Pinkneys both provide afterwords explaining more about Mahalia's career and her link with Martin and the subtleties and inspiration behind the illustrations.

Here is a video of Mahalia Jackson, just so you understand why she's known as the "Queen of Gospel."
CD can be purchased here.
Martin and Mahalia: His Words Her Song is from LB Kids, Hachette Group.

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