cover image Malcolm X

Malcolm X

Nikki Grimes. Ballantine Books, $4 (177pp) ISBN 978-0-449-90803-7

Grimes's distinctly partisan account of the African American leader conveys his remarkable drive but fails to mediate the controversies surrounding him. Whether discussing the tragedies that shaped Malcolm's childhood, the criminal activities of his youth, his affiliation with the Nation of Islam or his eventual rejection of separatism, Grimes rarely provides enough of either a historical or social context to help the reader assimilate disturbing information. For example, the Nation of Islam's teachings (among them, that whites comprise a ``devil race'') are presented without interpretation. Evidence of her own biases may escape her audience's notice, but she clearly conveys her passion for her subject and thereby recreates some of the excitement surrounding Malcolm. For a more objective treatment with greater historical perspective, see Walter Dean Myers's Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary (Children's Forecasts, Nov. 23). Photographs not seen by PW . Ages 11-14. (Jan.)