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Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song

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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.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published July 30, 2013

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About the author

Andrea Davis Pinkney

54 books298 followers
Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Duke Ellington, illustrated by Brian Pinkney; Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award; and Alvin Ailey, a Parenting Publication Gold medal winner.

Pinkney's newest books include Meet the Obamas and Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride, which has garnered three starred reviews and has been named one of the "Best Books of 2009" by School Library Journal. In 2010, Andrea's book entitled Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down, was published on the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro, North Carolina, sit-ins of 1960.

Her mother is a teacher and her father is a great storyteller, so growing up surrounded by books and stories is what inspired Andrea Davis Pinkney to choose a career as an author. The first official story she remembers writing was in second grade — it was about her family. Pinkney was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Connecticut. She went to Syracuse University, where she majored in journalism. After college, she followed her dream and worked as an editor for Essence magazine, but after watching her husband, Caldecott Award-winning artist Brian Pinkney, illustrate children's books, she decided to switch jobs and became involved in book publishing.

Andrea Davis Pinkney currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For more information, please see http://www.answers.com/topic/andrea-d...

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5 stars
215 (43%)
4 stars
184 (37%)
3 stars
83 (16%)
2 stars
7 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 93 reviews
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
July 11, 2013
Juxtaposing the moving words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the melodic tones of Mahalia Jackson, this book provides background information about the two while describing their involvement in the civil rights movement and their friendship. The book makes it clear that inspiration and motivation for change come from many sources. The author's pitch-perfect prose and the marvelous watercolor and India ink illustrations include snippets from both of their lives. The pairing of the two provides a fresh perspective on the story of civil rights in this nation. Although many readers may be aware of the importance of singing to rouse and comfort the protesters during that particular time period, they may not have realized just how important music was.
Profile Image for Caroline.
1,287 reviews3 followers
May 19, 2020
This was a really nice story about Martin Luther King Jr. and his friend Mahalia Jackson, who until reading this book I didn't know too much about. I thought it was a nice story, but there were a lot of religious undertones that made the book feel more like a call to Christianity than a history or biography of Martin and Mahalia. I wanted to feel more inspired by what they did and not the religion they both subscribed to.
Profile Image for Joan.
48 reviews
June 14, 2014
This book depicts the relationship between the speech and music of the 1950s-1960s, in Louisiana. The watercolor art is done by New York Times bestselling Husband-and-wife team.
The ties of all three people are evident and well represent the African culture and Americans. It speaks well of the civil rights movement, but also the arts. Great for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
(2013). Publishers Weekly. http://www.booksinprint.com/DetailedV...#
Wayne Public Library
1. What talents did Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson use to change the world?
2. Why were leaders needed to change the treatment of people in the 1960s?
3. Name three ways our school treats all students with respect.
4. Compare the work of the two and explain how they differ, but both necessary.
5 . Pick any painting in the book and relate how the drawing and colors bring emotion to the words.
6. Create your own art to share a form of racial acceptance.
Profile Image for Heidi Goehmann.
Author 13 books57 followers
January 18, 2017
I love picture books like this with a great vantage point of history, poetic language, and research and resources at the end.
Profile Image for Kifflie.
1,450 reviews4 followers
July 19, 2020
I am writing this review after just finding out today about the passing of John Lewis. We are losing so many of the elders of the civil rights movement. And civil rights are back at the forefront once more in this country.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahalia Jackson both had gifts of spreading the gospel -- one through speech, the other through music. Their stories are told together in sweeping words and illustrations.

It was Mahalia who called out to Martin during his speech at the March on Washington and encouraged him to tell the crowd about his dream.

This is a beautiful picture book to introduce children to these two giants in Black history.
Profile Image for Nancy Kotkin.
1,405 reviews18 followers
May 26, 2017
Text: 4 stars
Illustrations: 5 stars

Beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book about the collaboration between Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson, and the motivation they jointly provided for the civil rights movement in the 1960s. More of an artistic and inspirational book than a biography. Includes a civil rights timeline and suggested further reading.
14 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2015
Text Set 7: Martin & Mahalia: His Words Her Song written and illustrated by Andrea Davis Pickney and Brian Pickney is an artful, dual-biography of Martin Luther King and Mahalia Jackson. This is an interesting text, because it briefly explores the early life of King, which is not always spoken of in school, and at the same time, it brings to life the story of Mahalia Jackson, a less well-known figure I the Civil Rights Movement. It explores how their lives paralleled each other in many ways, and how they became aware of each other through their fame and ability to spread the gospel and move people. Their messages, delivered through words, sermons, and songs, told people to walk the path toward freedom and equality. Soon, they began to work together, including at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The text focuses on the collective feeling inspired by these two amazing individuals and how they influenced each other. At the end, there is a helpful timeline of their lives and major events in the Civil Rights Movement. Most interestingly, there is a “Selected Discography” of songs by Mahalia Jackson. As further reading, students and teachers could listen to these songs and analyze the lyrics, bringing in a new kind of media and text to the classroom, perhaps inspiring kids who are interested with music and moved by song. Martin & Mahalia shows how historically important people do not live in vacuums separated from one another. They often influence and support each other in their common ideals and goals. This text serves as a great inspiration for kids once they have learned about the history and the facts of the Civil Rights Movement.
Profile Image for Melissa Berke.
26 reviews2 followers
Want to read
April 27, 2014
Reflection on ONE: Text to text, text to self, text to world connection with the book
In 2005, I had the opportunity to tour the Birmingham Civil Rights institute. The museum's collection chronicle the civil rights movement and contain video, documents of events including recordings of MLK speeches and Mahalia Jackson singing.

Write six discussion questions using all six stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy
1. Knowledge:
When do the events of this book take place?

2. Comprehension:
Describe the method that Martin Luther King and his followers used throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

3. Application:
Design a picket sign that you could carry along the march with Martin Luther King.

4. Analysis:
Compare/contrast the lives of Mahalia and Martin. Although they worked together, how are were they different? How were they the same.

5. Synthesis:
Mrs. Smith's class is being treated differently than our class. They have more recess, they get lunch from a restaurant everyday, and they have desks and supplies that are brand new. Using the principles that Mahalia and Martin used, how might you work for equal treatment of both classes?

6. Evaluation:
What do you believe would be the most difficult thing for someone participating in the "March on Washington"?

An adapted book review citation:
13 reviews
June 30, 2015
(Book #3 of Text Set)
Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song, is written and illustrated by Andrea Davis Pickney and Brian Pickney and is the biography of both Martin Luther King and Mahalia Jackson. This book highlights the early life of MLK, which is a less-explored part of his life considering that most students only learn about his impact on the civil rights movement. However, it also ties in Mahalia Jackson, who is a lesser-known figure in the movement and someone about whom I knew nothing prior to reading this book. The book examines how their lives were interwoven and how the duo used their fame to inspire people. Their words and songs told people all over to take action and stand up for equality. Soon, they began to work together, including at the historic March on Washington.

The text largely centers on the collective feeling of hope brought about by Martin and Mahalia. The end of the book also provides a timeline of their lives and major events in the movement, which readers will definitely find useful. Another cool feature of the book is the Selected Discography of songs by Mahalia Jackson, which could be used as a way for teachers to introduce multiple modalities of learning into the classroom as a way to pique the interests and learning abilities of all children. This book shows how two important leaders influenced and supported each other in realizing their vision.
Profile Image for Karen.
30 reviews
February 12, 2017
Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song wins the Self-Rescuing Princess Society seal of approval for showing the power of a single voice to inspire a nation, and how the joining of two remarkable voices change the world. This book is a beautiful bedtime story for younger children, as well as an excellent choice for early and middle grade readers.

Read the full review: https://selfrescuingprincesssociety.b...
December 15, 2015
Plot Summary: We know that he had a dream but this book teaches you so much more. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up with a passion to preach just like his grandfather and father. He spoke the gospel. Mahalia grew up with a passion to sing. She sang the gospel. Together they shared the gospel through speaking and singing. They taught the gospel and about freedom! They both were African Americans so they barely had any freedom because of their race. So Martin spoke to a huge group of people about freedom! This story shows the life and history of Martin Luther King Jr. in a different way by using a picture book. It also introduces you to Mahalia. You always hear the power of the speech for Martin but you never hear the story of singing from Mahalia.

Classroom Connection: This picture book biography would be a great book to introduce Martin Luther King Jr. Then the next activities could be finding more books on Martin, creating once again a text set. With poems about Martin and the topic could also move to slavery and the civil rights movement of African Americans. The students could explore different people that were involved in the civil rights movement. On the topic of Martin Luther King Jr. the students could watch the speech. Even though they might not understand the whole speech it still is important for them to watch.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michelle Moore.
26 reviews1 follower
April 6, 2016
Core Curricular Ties: Social Studies, Reading, Art

How Could Be Used:
This book could be used for learning about the Civil Rights and segregation. It gives a lot of information about two people that used their voices to speak up for change. They could also use compare and contrast to explain that even though they used their voices in different ways, they had the same goal for change. There are also some literary devices (his voice was steady as a train.) Brian Pinkney uses a lot of imagery and symbolism in his art. He has a page at the back of the book that explains why he choose to do the art the way that he did. The pictures are beautiful and vibrant so kids would enjoy creating some watercolor painting that emulate this story.

This is a strong book that shows some of the hardships that Black/African American people went through. It demonstrates how hard people worked for a change. Not only is this book culturally diverse in that it teaches tolerance and working for change, but it also has a lot of true information with beautiful pictures. Students would be engaged with this book.
50 reviews
December 7, 2015
This book is about the relationship between Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson and how music and speech goes hand in hand with one another. The moving words from Martin and the inspiring tones from Mahalia’s voice really elevates this book. The book provides background information about the two while describing their involvement in the civil rights movement. The theme in the book can be described as an inspirational or a motivational movement for change and how it can come from a variety of sources. The illustrations are colorful and vibrant. The watercolor illustrations are very deliberate as most of Martin’s pages are blues and greens, while Mahalia Jackson’s pages are red and orange. While when they are both on the page it is more of a purple color. This book would be a tool to introduce ideas such as theme and symbolism to young readers. I would not want to force it down their throats, but just using it as a bridge to tie reading to some important vocabulary.
50 reviews
December 8, 2015
This book is about the relationship between Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson and how music and speech goes hand in hand with one another. The moving words from Martin and the inspiring tones from Mahalia’s voice really elevates this book. The illustrations are what really made this book enjoyable for me. The colors are so vibrant and I liked the difference between pages with Martin on them and pages with Mahalia on them and then the blending of the color when they had been on the same page. I could see this book being used to introduce Martin Luther King Jr. to a class or as a way to teach some concepts (such as theme) to readers. The theme of this book in the movement for change and you could easily talk to the students about how the illustrations are adding to the theme. This would no doubt be a book I want to have in my classroom.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
1,485 reviews279 followers
July 8, 2013
While Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke the gospel and led his people with his words, Mahalia Jackson sang the gospel and spread the word through her song. The Pinkneys show through inspiring words and pictures how these two pivotal figures in the Civil Rights Movement worked together to lead the American people with their voices. “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. To a place, to a time, when all will BE FREE.” Full of hope, this beautiful book captures the way these two leaders came together to use their gifts to call for change.
Profile Image for Samantha.
4,985 reviews58 followers
August 19, 2013
Side-by-side views of what Martin and Mahalia contributed to the Civil Rights Movement. Watercolor artwork depicts key moments such as the March on Washington.

I liked the way the page orientation changed to fit the content. The scene in which Martin looks out upon the crowd of thousands assembled at the Lincoln Memorial was stunning. By changing the page orientation for this scene readers get a better sense of the number of people who were witness to this historic moment.

Also included are author/illustrator noters, further reading list, selected discography, and a timeline.

Recommended for class use regarding notable African Americans and Civil Rights for grades 3-5.
Profile Image for Holly Mueller.
2,231 reviews
August 21, 2013
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahalia Jackson were partners in the civil rights movement. They both used their voices to make changes, inspiring people by using their gifts - he with his moving speeches and she with her songs. I love the last couple page spreads when the book culminates like a gospel song, singing "Amen, Amen, Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, Glory Hallelujah!" Brian Pinkney's illustrations are energetic, full of movement. A dove is flying throughout the story, symbolizing peace, and explained more fully in the illustrator's notes in the back. Andrea Pinkney teaches us a lot about this inspiring pair. The whole design of the book is creative and inspiring.
Profile Image for Crystal Sleeman.
26 reviews2 followers
April 20, 2014
Text to Text: I've always been very moved by Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech. This text made reference to this speech by referring to the final lines of the speech.
Discussion Questions:
1. What is Martin Luther King known for?
2. What would you compare Martin and Mahalia?
3. What would have resulted if Mahalia had not sang at Martin's speech?
4. What is the relationship between Martin and Mahalia?
5. What would happen if the listeners to the speech had turned violent?
6. Can you assess the value or importance of religion in this story?
Citation:(2013, April 01). Booklist. http://www.titlewave.com/search?SID=f...
Profile Image for Becky.
1,341 reviews12 followers
January 3, 2016
Another powerful book from the Pinkney team! This book draws parallels between the preaching/speaking voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the singing voice of Mahalia Jackson. Both grew up in the black church in the South during segregation. Both learned to use their voices to praise God, as well as work for justice. They began to work together during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and both "performed" during the March on Washington. A powerful comparison. Back matter includes a bibliography, a discography, a timeline, and an illustrator's note.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4,619 reviews177 followers
October 23, 2013
The friendship between Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson grew to be an important partnership in the civil rights movement. In a book that is all about two voices' power to move people (in a largely gospel way), Brian Pinkney's illustrations do a fine job showing this in a visual way, even changing the orientation of the book at times. There are plenty of books about MLK Jr., and this one takes a different angle, which is nice.

"Mahalia's voice was brass and butter. Strong and smooth at the same time."
Profile Image for Rachel Dalton.
119 reviews3 followers
February 16, 2014
I give this book five starts, hands down. I am amazed by this book, including the illustrations by Caldecott winner Brian Pinkney and the beautiful way that a true, historical story is portrayed by Coretta Scott King Award winner Andrea Davis Pinkney. I really want to find more of their books! This story about Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson could be used in such a multitude of ways in the classroom for any age, including studies on the Civil Rights movement, a music appreciation study on different singers, and lessons on questioning.
Profile Image for Christopher.
433 reviews18 followers
August 2, 2013
A nice poetic story of the friendship between Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson. The Pinkneys (Andrea Davis & Brian) have written and illustratd another winner. Brian Pinkney's use of watercolors instead of his signature scratchboard designs is a nice fit for this story. A healthy amount of backmatter gives kids enough information about the times to pique their curiosity and maybe go off on their own to learn more. A great read.
Profile Image for Penny Peck.
513 reviews18 followers
September 30, 2013
This picture book celebration of two civil rights icons is very brief, but can serve as a nice introduction to the subject for primary graders. A great readaloud for the MLK, Jr. Holiday, pair this with musical recordings by Mahalia Jackson. The narrative describes how each as a child was brought up to advocate for civil rights as part of their church experiences. The watercolor illustrations have energy and depict their faces realistically. A good book to offer Sunday School teachers as well.
Profile Image for Christina Getrost.
2,175 reviews67 followers
December 4, 2013
Beautifully intertwines brief stories of Martin Luther King Jr and Mahalia Jackson's lives, leading up to the March on Washington DC in 1963 where they were both key speakers (or singer). Bright colorful swirling art, with a vertical "centerfold" (to best view the center two-page spread you have to turn book sideways). Is a "vignette" of the lives of these two significant African American figures in American history.
Author 1 book57 followers
December 9, 2013
This book is beautifully written and poignantly illustrated. It is an account of Dr. Martin Luther King's life and how he and Mahalia Jackson combined their skills and talents in the common purpose of gaining equality for black people in the United States. They worked tirelessly in their efforts, and it is lovely to have Mahalia's story be told. Words are colored so as to jump off the page and emphasize the author's purpose. Beautiful!
51 reviews1 follower
June 11, 2014
Andrea Davis Pinkney tells the story of Martin and Mahalia. They were both born with the gift of the gospel-one has the gift of speaking and one has the gift of singing. They were both partners in The Civil Rights Movement and fought segregation. They stood united on the March on Washington to fight for jobs and freedom. My favorite part about this book is the illustrations. The paintings are made of transparent water color and Indian ink.
Profile Image for Laura.
2,047 reviews39 followers
January 11, 2014
Every child learns about Martin Luther King and his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington. This story traces King's well-known story and adds the story of Mahalia Jackson, a gospel singer. I loved the fresh take and beautiful parallelism of the story. This is definitely a book I'll be adding to my elementary school collection and one that I will recommend to teachers.
Profile Image for Julie.
480 reviews32 followers
August 26, 2013
This amazing duo illustrates the power of words and songs of Martin Luther King and Mahalia Jackson as they lead readers along the path to Civil Rights, culminating in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Interesting endnotes and useful timeline included. With the emphasis on actions, it would be a great book for language arts integration to teach verbs.
Profile Image for Karen Arendt.
2,687 reviews13 followers
August 30, 2013
One of the best books for young children I have read on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his march on Washington. This book shares some of what the civil right movement was all about by illustrating Jim Crow laws and the treatment of african-americans I like how certain words were large, bold, and in color to express the importance. Those words could lead to a writing project on civil rights.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 93 reviews

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