Magnolia Flower

HarperCollins. Sept. 2022. 40p. adapted by adapt. by Ibram X. Kendi;. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063098312.
Gr 2-4–Kendi admirably adapts Hurston’s short story for younger readers, simplifying it to a sweet story of enduring love. The wise River tells the playful Brook the story of Magnolia Flower, a spirited young girl born to parents who escaped slavery and the Trail of Tears. When Magnolia Flower falls in love with the poor poet John, her father forbids the love match and Magnolia Flower is required to take matters into her own hands. A historical note offers details on the Maroon communities as portrayed in the story. In an author’s note, Kendi discusses his love for Hurston’s work and his wish to share it with his daughter. He creates an accessible story employing much of the original wording, but this is still best shared one-on-one in order for younger readers to grasp the meanings and imagery of the lyrical prose. Digital illustrations are a real complement to the story, creating a lush landscape filled with beautifully drawn flora. Bright pinks, yellows, and aqua blues fill each page and are a perfect accompaniment for lyrical text.
VERDICT While this is a nice introduction to Hurston’s work, many readers will be first drawn to the vibrant illustrations.

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