Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song

Kathryn Erskine, illus. by Charly Palmer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-374-30301-3
National Book Award–winner Erskine (Mockingbird) takes readers to the South Africa of her childhood as she follows the rise of singer/activist Miriam Makeba. The injustice of apartheid, omnipresent in Makeba’s life, extends into the book’s design: sections of text about the white “baases” in power appear in white boxes, while passages about Makeba and anti-apartheid movements are set in separate black boxes: “She sings to her people to be brave. ‘Jolinkomo!’ She sings of police raids. ‘Khawuleza!’ ” In his first children’s book, Palmer uses thick, forceful brushstrokes to create vibrant, abstracted portraits of Makeba and her South African home. This rousing account of how Makeba used her music to fight for equality concludes with a timeline and extensive author’s note. Ages 6–10. Author’s agent: Kendra Marcus, Bookstop Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/09/2017
Release date: 10/10/2017
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