Mae Makes A Way: The True Story of Mae Reeves, Hat & History Maker by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, illustrated by Andrea Pippins

Published by Crown Books for Young Readers

Summary:  Published in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, this book traces the story of Mae Reeves, a Black woman who left Georgia in the 1930’s to become a milliner.  She eventually opened her own shop in Philadelphia, creating hats for celebrities like Marian Anderson, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald.  She kept her business going while raising three children and being active in her community, helping other Black businesses.  Mae lived to be 104, long enough to see artifacts from her shop included in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Includes interviews with Mae’s daughter Donna and with Dr. Reneé Anderson, Head of Collections at NMAAHC, as well as information about the museum and a list of sources.  48 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  A fascinating biography of a woman who never became famous but who lived a full life, following her own dreams and helping others.  Readers will be inspired to head to Washington, D.C. to see Mae’s hats in the museum.

Cons:  It’s a long picture book for reading aloud.

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