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Cover image for Malcolm X : a fire burning brightly
Malcolm X : a fire burning brightly

Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, c2000.
Physical Description:
unpaged : color illustrations.
Reading Level:
AD 960 L Lexile


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 921 X 1 1

On Order



"We never can win freedom and justice and equality until we are doing something for ourselves!"

Malcolm X learned from his father that black people should demand equality by taking their lives and futures into their own hands. Malcolm believed in this idea. It was one he lived by.

Though Malcolm faced hard times growing up and even went to jail, he turned his life around. He read books and combined lessons he'd learned from his father and from the religious leader Elijah Muhammad. Soon Malcolm would become a powerful leader in the struggle for blacks to achieve equality.

Malcolm died tragically when he was only thirty-nine, but his beliefs live on today. Walter Dean Myers's evenhanded narrative and Leonard Jenkins's striking paintings celebrate the man and the fiery message he brought to all people of color.

Author Notes

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write.

He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother.

He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-A compelling account of the life of one of the most controversial and misunderstood men of the 20th century. From the troubled childhood of Malcolm Little to the assassination of Malcolm X, Myers shows the influences on and the personal strengths of this fiery leader. The succinct, straightforward text is suitable in content and tone for younger children, while the picture-book format provides accessibility for older reluctant readers as well. Jenkins's dark, expressive paintings convey Malcolm's inner turmoil and spiritual growth, providing a perfect blend of well-written text and well-executed illustrations. Myers includes a chronology of events in Malcolm's life and intersperses quotations throughout the text in larger, bold print. A first purchase for any library.-Eunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this excellent picture-book biography, Myers focuses on the challenging childhood of Malcolm Little, who would grow up to be Malcolm X, and draws upon the man's own words to illustrate his leadership qualities. Jenkins's lifelike portraits and often clashing color combinations effectively convey the unrest of the man and his times. Ages 5-8. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate, Young Adult) Not many writers could successfully pull off a picture-book biography of Malcolm X, but Walter Dean Myers does so with style and grace. By focussing on the dramatic turning points in his subject's short life and skillfully using direct quotes from the man himself, Myers makes the complexities of Malcolm X's story accessible without compromising its integrity. The spare and eloquent narrative covers not only Malcolm Little's childhood and youth, but his young adulthood in the Charlestown State Prison, his conversion to Islam, his leadership among Black Muslims in Harlem, his falling out with Elijah Muhammad, and his pilgrimage to Mecca prior to his assassination in 1965. Myers even touches briefly on the differences in approach between Malcolm's followers and those of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His tone shows respect for both his subject and his audience; in fact, the book is likely to appealto reluctant teen readers as much as it will to younger readers. Leonard Jenkins's sophisticated acrylic and pastel paintings use neon colors; they blend realism with abstraction to heighten the underlying emotional drama of scenes that might otherwise have seemed static-men marching, making speeches, and reading. He effectively uses shifting perspective, for example, to provide two very different views of Malcolm reading in his jail cell in order to illustrate his intellectual growth. The book concludes with a two-page chronology that's further illuminated with twenty-four direct quotations from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. Two illustrated biographies provide a powerful introduction to Malcolm X and his times. Both middle-graders and older reluctant readers will be caught by these accounts of a leader who still speaks to us of commitment, pride, and openness to change. Adoff's strong, clear text, first published in 1970, is reissued here as a chapter book, with new black-and-white illustrations by Rudy Guiterrez (one in each chapter) that reflect the intense drama, from Malcolm's childhood to his years as leader and his tragic death. Myers' YA biography Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary (1992) was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. In this picture book for older readers, he focuses on the crucial stages in Malcolm X's life. Leonard Jenkins' full-page, full-color montage illustrations, in acrylic, pastel, and spray paint, are like mural art, with larger-than-life individual portraits set against the crowded streets and the swirl of politics. At the same time, the pictures express the intense inner conflict and changes in the boy and the man. There's a painful close-up of a white teacher telling teenager Malcolm to give up his hopes of being a lawyer, and wonderful contrast between Malcolm as a cool, sharp street operator in a powder-blue suit and as a prisoner behind bars, reading in his cell--reading everything he can find. Public scenes show Malcolm X as eloquent speaker and leader. Then there's his pilgrimage to Mecca and his break with the Nation of Islam. On almost every page, there's a quote in bold black type from Malcolm X's speeches or writings. They make us hear his voice. --Hazel Rochman

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