MARTIN & MAHALIA
His Words, Her Song
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Little, Brown. $17.99. Age 6 and up.
Fifty years after the March on Washington, the words and songs from that day still ring out with determination, hope and faith. This bright, almost buoyant new picture book focuses on two towering figures who led the march and whose voices still demand our — and our children’s — attention. The church launched the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson on parallel journeys, which are shown initially in alternating scenes. In one blue-green spread, we see a young King preaching: “Martin SPOKE the gospel. PRAYED the gospel. SOUGHT the gospel. TAUGHT the gospel.” Turn the page, and there’s Jackson amid an orange-red whirlwind: “She SANG the gospel. WORKED the gospel. LED the gospel. SPREAD the gospel.” Working from the facts but not constrained by them, husband-and-wife team Brian Pinkney and Andrea Davis Pinkney convey the inspiration that King and Jackson received and imparted. While making it clear that the pair wasn’t alone on that Lincoln Memorial stage, the Pinkneys honor and praise King’s and Jackson’s shared vision of peace, as well as their ability to reach people around the world and through the generations.