Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song
Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song

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Annotation: Picture-book biography celebrates the life of Grammy Award-winning South African jazz singer Miriam Makeba, who rose to prominence at the height of the apartheid regime and became a powerful voice for freedom.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #151838
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Illustrator: Palmer, Charly,
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-374-30301-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99825-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-374-30301-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99825-4
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2016057828
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
This picture-book biography of Miriam Makeba shows how she used her voice, both spoken and in songs of protest, to raise awareness and help fight the system of apartheid in her native South Africa. Makeba spent her life in the effort of heightening understanding of and bringing an end to institutionalized segregation thrust upon African ethnic groups between 1948 and the early 1990s. Palmer's striking, boldly colored illustrations reveal both movement and mood while adeptly revealing the story of Makeba's life. The text is printed on wide strokes of alternating black and white paint, using the opposite color of ink on each. Some words ave, voice, anger, watch, beware e printed in red ink, which is more puzzling than impactful. Back matter includes an author's note, a selected bibliography, and a glossary. Notable freedom fighters Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. are mentioned here, but this accessible biography will introduce children to a woman whose lifelong dedication to the abolishment of an unjust system made a difference.
Horn Book
Erskine's picture book biography about South African resistance singer Miriam Makeba uses driving present tense and an expressionistic prose style, with lyrical sentences alighting on significant apartheid events. Quotes and song lyrics keep the intensity high, as does clever use of words in red, often repeated on the next page. Palmer heightens the sense of urgency with vivid paintings. Includes an extensive author's note. Reading list, timeline. Bib., glos.
Publishers Weekly
National Book Award-winner Erskine (Mockingbird) takes readers to the South Africa of her childhood as she follows the rise of singer/activist Miriam Makeba. The injustice of apartheid, omnipresent in Makeba-s life, extends into the book-s design: sections of text about the white -baases- in power appear in white boxes, while passages about Makeba and anti-apartheid movements are set in separate black boxes: -She sings to her people to be brave. -Jolinkomo!- She sings of police raids. -Khawuleza!- - In his first children-s book, Palmer uses thick, forceful brushstrokes to create vibrant, abstracted portraits of Makeba and her South African home. This rousing account of how Makeba used her music to fight for equality concludes with a timeline and extensive author-s note. Ages 6-10. Author-s agent: Kendra Marcus, Bookstop Literary. (Oct.)

School Library Journal
Gr 25Miriam Makeba was a South African singer who used her talent to challenge apartheid and to encourage South Africans to rail against injustice. Early in her career, Makeba decided to sing in Setswana, IsiXhosa, and IsiZulu precisely because the white ruling class did not speak those languages. A sense of rising tension is unmistakable throughout the text, and each of Makeba's hopeful successes is followed by further struggle, finally culminating in Nelson Mandela's release from prison and the slow end of apartheid in South Africa. Debut illustrator Palmer's painterly spreads shine in rich colors and bold brushstrokes, capturing the passion of Makeba mid-song. In other spreads, scenes of an armed white police officer demanding the transit pass of a black man who has stepped outside of his neighborhood boundary, and a lone child who has survived the massacre of school children at Soweto, all speak acutely to the landscape of apartheid that shaped Mama Africa's career. Erksine spent some of her childhood living in apartheid South Africa, and she shares her own experiences and connection to Makeba's music at length in the back matter. VERDICT A welcome addition to picture book biography collections.Lauren Younger, New York Public Library
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Buoyed by the work of Nelson Mandela and the music of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, Miriam sang to make black South Africans free.Born in 1932 near Johannesburg, Miriam Makeba "sang as soon as she could talk." Growing up in apartheid-era South Africa, she rebelled against unjust laws restricting where blacks could go and what they could do, and she fought that racism with her songs, even singing subversively in languages the government officials could not understand. Eventually, Miriam illegally left South Africa to sing internationally and tell the world that blacks were dying because of apartheid. Throughout the book, white rectangular text boxes convey the discriminatory actions of the baases (white ruling class), while black-backgrounded text boxes present Makeba's words and efforts to fight racism—making white negative and black positive. Palmer's densely illustrated, painterly scenes give readers a strong sense of the culture and beauty of South Africa. His images of people, however, often include just enough detail to reveal their emotions. The backmatter offers a single timeline of Makeba's life and the U.S. civil rights movement, a glossary, and copious research resources. Erskine, a white woman who, as a child, lived in South Africa during apartheid, includes photos of her young self working for social justice. An excellent perspective from which American readers can learn about apartheid and one of the pioneers who fought it through her art. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 1,539
Reading Level: 3.9
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.9 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 195718 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.5 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q72887
Lexile: 630L

Miriam Makeba, a Grammy Award-winning South African singer, rose to fame in the hearts of her people at the pinnacle of apartheid--a brutal system of segregation similar to American Jim Crow laws. Mama Africa, as they called her, raised her voice to help combat these injustices at jazz clubs in Johannesburg; in exile, at a rally beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and before the United Nations. Set defiantly in the present tense, this biography offers readers an intimate view of Makeba's fight for equality. Kathryn Erskine's call-and-response style text and Charly Palmer's bold illustrations come together in a raw, riveting duet of protest song and praise poem. A testament to how a single voice helped to shake up the world--and can continue to do so.

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