cover image Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X

Ilyasah Shabazz, illus. by AG Ford. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4424-1216-3

Shabazz (Growing Up X) pays affectionate tribute to her father, Malcolm X, and his parents in this account of the activist’s childhood, which relies on family lore to reimagine Malcolm’s conversations and thoughts. The dense narrative mixes down-to-earth observations (Malcolm “was full of questions, a natural leader, and a fun-loving prankster”) with sometimes protracted metaphors; among the lessons Malcolm learned from his mother’s garden was that it “was an entire world of its own, where even the most sluggish of ladybugs and the fastest scurrying ants were all equally treated like esteemed and welcomed guests at a family Sunday brunch.” What Shabazz relays more precisely is Malcolm’s resolve to succeed and remain true to his parents’ values after he loses his father “to the brute force of racism and the narrow-mindedness of the Ku Klux Klan,” and his mother is deemed “no longer fit to care for her children.” Ford’s (My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) oil paintings render joyous and desolate moments with equal skill. Ages 5–10. Author’s agent: Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)