Maya’s momma was right.
Maya was a preacher, a teacher.
A Black girl whose voice
chased away darkness, ushered in light.
Maya’s Song is an introduction biography of Maya Angelou. Done in prose poetry, (most likely inspired by Angelou’s own writing style. Though I am afraid I have only read a handful of her writing and therefore, not well enough versed to say yes or no), this picture book shows Angelou’s life poetically. Renee Watson was inspired by Maya Angelou’s works and that comes across in her style
Watson starts her story on April 4, 1928, when a young baby born and nicknamed by her brother, Maya (“she’s my-ah sister”). She then takes us from Michigan to California to Arkansas and eventually even Ghana. We hear of how she was assaulted, hid her uncle from the Klan, how she learned the power of words (and not speaking them) and how she proved her momma right by having her voice heard around the world. We see how close she was to her brother, grandmother and always took her fathers words of never looking down to heart.
The illustrations of Bryan Collier are busy, dark colors with a hopeful tone, and are expressive. They are a character within themselves. Both text and art support each other and allow us a window to an American poet and the journey she took to become the first woman to speak at a Presidential inauguration and the first person of color.
To be published in time for the release of Maya Angelou being the first black woman to be featured on the quarter, this longer picture book would work in most grades for a poetry lesson, black history or women’s history. However, though it could be used as high as third to fifth grades, the picture book format might turn some readers off.