Maya’s Song

Harper­Collins. Sept. 2022. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062871589.
Gr 2-6–This in-depth biography in poems, with unsurpassable watercolor and collage illustrations, begins with Angelou’s birth in 1928 and concludes with her delivering a poem at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration. Readers will gain an understanding of Angelou from her childhood experiences, excerpts of her writing, and adult accomplishments and friendships (with, for example, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X). Though many details of her life story are not included, readers will be curious to learn more about this captivating person. Collier uses a dim blue-gray to reflect negative events and the feelings that accompany them: at times throughout Angelou’s life, “Sometimes bad things happen./ Sometimes darkness comes.” “Word-seeds” and poetry pull Angelou from her silence so she can make her voice heard, and the colors lighten correspondingly. Angelou moved and traveled frequently, from a San Francisco nightclub to Harlem’s Apollo to a market in Accra, Ghana; Collier’s striking market scene uses collage to emphasize foods and fabrics. Portraits of Angelou herself show her solemn, thoughtful, and powerful throughout, finally smiling broadly on the final page. Includes a time line, author’s note, and illustrator’s note.
VERDICT Poetic and superbly illustrated, this tour de force belongs in every library.

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