Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song


They were each born with the gift of gospel.

Martin's voice kept people in their seats, but also sent their praises soaring.
Mahalia's voice was brass-and-butter - strong and smooth at the same time.

With Martin's sermons and Mahalia's songs, folks were free to shout, to sing their joy.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from ...

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They were each born with the gift of gospel.

Martin's voice kept people in their seats, but also sent their praises soaring.
Mahalia's voice was brass-and-butter - strong and smooth at the same time.

With Martin's sermons and Mahalia's songs, folks were free to shout, to sing their joy.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and his strong voice and powerful message were joined and lifted in song by world-renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It was a moment that changed the course of history and is imprinted in minds forever. Told through Andrea Davis Pinkney's poetic prose and Brian Pinkney's evocative illustration, the stories of these two powerful voices and lives are told side-by-side — as they would one day walk — following the journey from their youth to a culmination at this historical event when they united as one and inspiring kids to find their own voices and speak up for what is right.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Pinkneys (Hand in Hand) return with a vibrant, upbeat tribute to two prominent civil rights figures and friends, preacher Martin Luther King Jr. and singer Mahalia Jackson. Both used their powerful voices to stir people to action: “Martin’s sermons and Mahalia’s spirituals told their listeners: You are here./ On the path./ Come along./ Step proud./ Stand strong./ Be brave./ Go with me.” Brian Pinkney’s illustrations reflect their partnership, as swirling swaths of color (greens and blues for King’s pages, reds and oranges for Jackson’s) meld into purple-magenta hues in spreads featuring them together. The line between illustration and narrative is satisfyingly blurred, e.g., bold colors highlight some words in the text, while the stylized watercolors incorporate words and phrases. Buoyant brushstrokes curl and circle upward, arrows curve and point. In each scene, an encircled dove flies along these looping lines, pointing the way to the book’s culmination, the March on Washington. Author and illustrator notes provide additional biographical information and explain the artwork’s symbolism in detail. An extensive resource list rounds out the concluding material. Ages 6–up. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Martin & Mahalia:

One of School Library Journal's Best Books of the year
A Booklist Editor's Choice selection

An NCTE Notable book
An ALSC Notable book

"[A] colorful, inspirational resource." —Booklist

"Sure to become an indispensable part of annual Black History Month celebrations and library nonfiction collections on important African-Americans."—Kirkus,

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
A long, thin book of big paintings and text that's part prose and part poem celebrates the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Jackson sang and Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The Pinkneys, an award-winning husband and wife team, link gospel singer Jackson and eloquent preacher King as symbols and inspiration for the thousands of marchers gathered that August day at the Lincoln Memorial. Poster-like illustrations, both horizontal and vertical, introduce young readers to King's early days in Atlanta where he honed his verbal skills and to Jackson's singing as a young girl in her New Orleans church choir. By 1963, both had become famous, King for his inspiring words and Jackson for her powerful voice; both participated in the march for jobs and civil rights. The Pinkneys, in words and bright oversize close-ups, depict them addressing the crowd, culminating in a huge vertical spread focused on the 100,000 spellbound listeners overlaid with a spiral of color topped by a white dove and a chorus of "Amen." It's not easy to portray music graphically, nor large abstract ideas and emotions. In an endnote, Pinkney explains how he used, in his swirling watercolors, blues and greens for King, reds and oranges for Jackson, then magentas and purples for the pair; he found inspiration in the work of artists Ben Shahn and Charles Wilbert White and in the image of the white dove. Andrea Pinkney adds two pages of further historical information and details. Young historians can read more in books recommended and hear Mahalia Jackson's voice from records listed in a discography (check CDs on, while an illustrated timeline (1911—1972) offers highlights of the civil rights movement. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—As in Sit-In (Little, Brown, 2010), the Pinkneys present important figures and a pivotal moment during the Civil Rights Movement in a fresh and visually compelling manner. Readers are invited to follow a path and a dove throughout-both images being rich in multiple meanings. The narrative starts with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s upbringing, which trained him to speak the gospel. Rendered in cool blues and greens, the fluid watercolor and ink compositions are less about capturing a likeness than conveying the charisma and soul of this preacher. Mahalia Jackson is portrayed in warm oranges and reds. (When together, purples envelope the pair.) Readers learn that she sang the gospel, from church choirs to recordings, and performances for presidents. Overlaid with ribbons of key words and rounded lines suggesting ripples from the characters' auras, the pictures provide emotional content for the author's smart and stylized descriptions. This fascinating new lens for children on the often-depicted "Dream" speech during the March on Washington reveals how Jackson's powerful voice stilled the crowds for King's: "She rolled her brass and butter with a MIGHTY DOSE OF THUNDER." Author and artist indicate how, in the call-and-response manner so familiar to both, it was Jackson who admonished King to, "TELL THEM ABOUT YOUR DREAM, MARTIN!" Ideas and fervor build and important phrases appear in bold colors. Historical context and artistic inspirations wrap up this informative approach to the two icons and the effect of their partnership on history.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A well-illustrated and meticulously researched story of the inextricably intertwined lives of two important African-American historical figures. From its opening poem, "You Are Here," printed on a simple watercolor map of a road, to its backmatter about the history and art behind the story, this historical account of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and spiritual contralto vocalist Mahalia Jackson delivers inspiration and information equally. Focusing on the gift that each had for gospel, Andrea Davis Pinkney emphasizes the vocal and musical talents that each gained through the church as young people. Brian Pinkney renders Martin's pages in greens and blues, Mahalia's pages in oranges and reds, and the scenes where they come together, as they did in the 1968 March on Washington, in purples and oranges, blending their respective colors to represent their unity and the merging of their talents for the sake of social justice. The visual motif of the white dove, which appears throughout, stands in contrast to the opposition and conflict their work often sparked. Maps of curved streets with directional arrows on which appear words such as "segregation" and "This way to freedom" give the visually rich pages a sense of constant motion. Sure to become an indispensable part of annual Black History Month celebrations and library nonfiction collections on important African-Americans. (Informational picture book. 6-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316070133
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 7/30/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 268,194
  • Age range: 6 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: AD570L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 12.30 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the author of many acclaimed picture books and young adult novels, and she received a Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor for Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters. She is a children's book editor at a major publishing company.

Brian Pinkney has illustrated numerous books for children, including two Caldecott Honor books, and he has written and illustrated several of his own books. Brian has received the Coretta Scott King Book Award for Illustration and three Coretta Scott King Book Award Honor medals.

Andrea and Brian are a husband-and-wife team who live with their children in New York City.

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