cover image A Crown of Stories: The Life and Language of Beloved Writer Toni Morrison

A Crown of Stories: The Life and Language of Beloved Writer Toni Morrison

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Khalif Tahir Johnson. Quill Tree, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-291103-2

“How do you tell a story?” begins this thoughtful tribute to writer Toni Morrison (1931–2019), born Chloe Ardelia Wofford. Starting with Morrison’s family’s move north as part of the Great Migration, Boston Weatherford (Kin) highlights the child’s listening—“to your mother’s ghost stories/ and your grandfather’s violin”—as key to her learning the art of storytelling. The only Black child in her first grade class, and the only student who can read, she devours books at home “like Sunday supper,” while learning to “listen to your surroundings”—including, due to racism and financial precarity, “the packing and unpacking/ of your family’s possessions.” As she matures, she studies English literature, then becomes a college professor, the first Black senior editor in publishing, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize–winning writer—and, additionally, “a bridge” listening “to the silence for voices/ that have been muted far too long.” Attending closely observed second-person text that puts the reader in Morrison’s shoes, debut artist Tahir Johnson combines media, including paint and collage, lending textured depth to portraits of a creator whose stories “get under our skin, next to our hearts, and inside our souls.” An author’s note and timeline conclude. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)

Correction: A previous version of this review misstated the author's first name.