Maya’s Song by Renée Watson, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Published by HarperCollins

Summary:  Maya Angelou’s story is told in a collection of free verse poems, illustrated with watercolor and collage illustrations.  The story begins with her birth in 1928 and continues through her childhood spent in California, Arkansas, and Missouri, where “her mother’s boyfriend hurt her body, hurt her soul,” leading Maya to stop speaking for five years.  Her love of poetry helped her to recover her voice, and she went on to become a singer and then a poet, befriending James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.  Her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings brought her to national prominence; the story ends with her reading a poem at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration, fulfilling her grandmother’s prophecy that she would be a preacher and a teacher.  Includes a timeline and notes from the author and illustrator.  48 pages; grades 2-6.

Pros:  This amazing poetry biography is sure to be considered for multiple awards for both the writing and the illustrations.  I was immediately drawn into Maya Angelou’s story; Renée Watson is a masterful poet who tells the most difficult aspects of that story in a way that can be shared with young children.  The illustrations are gorgeous, layered with colors and patterns.

Cons:  No additional resources are given.

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