cover image On Her Wings: The Story of Toni Morrison

On Her Wings: The Story of Toni Morrison

Jerdine Nolen, illus. by James E. Ransome. S&S/Wiseman, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7852-7

“Long before Chloe became a writer or a reader, she was a listener.” Nolen chronicles the life and career of Toni Morrison (1931–2019), from her birth in Lorain, Ohio, as Chloe Ardelia Wofford to her 1993 acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Reportorial prose foregrounds the figure’s family life and interests, describing Morrison’s upbringing on a steady diet of music, mythology, scripture, and supernatural tales—influences that led to academia and an editorial career before she published The Bluest Eye, her first novel, at age 39. Describing Morrison’s work as sharing “the untold stories that needed to be told” about “the history and pain of black life in the United States,” Nolen writes, “Her story words were so mighty,/ mighty enough to lift that old blanket of oppression/ and pull against each thread until that blanket just unraveled.” Realistic watercolor and collage portraiture by Ransome depicts Morrison at various ages alongside relatives and figures past and present. It’s an elucidative homage that ends with a call to action, inviting readers to tell their own stories. Extensive back matter includes an author’s note, recommended reading and viewing, and “important quotes.” Ages 4–8. (Sept.)