Cover image for Martin and Mahalia : his words, her song
Martin and Mahalia : his words, her song
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2013.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 24 x 32 cm.
Reading Level:
AD 650 L Lexile
Added Author:
Explores the intersecting lives of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson at the historic moment when their joined voices inspired landmark changes.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 323.092 PIN 1 1
Book J 323.092 PIN 1 1
Book J 323.092 PIN 1 1
Book E 323.092 PIN 1 1

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson combined their respective vocal gifts to form an unshakeable ribbon of faith." A visual representation of that faith, a series of banners with directions (e.g., "This way to freedom") create a frame for each illustration, while words from both King and singer Jackson provide context for the uplifting text. Author and illustrator notes and discography are appended. Timeline. Reading list. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Wife-and-husband team Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney match talents as they weave together the stories of two giants of the American civil rights movement. At first the stories are distinct, with alternating, dedicated spreads tracing the individuals' paths as gospel preacher and singer until they meet and combine forces at the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and forge a collaboration that takes them through Martin's most famous speech, at the Lincoln Memorial. Andrea Davis Pinkney establishes careful rhythmic patterns to her text, mirroring the two figures' impact. On one page, Martin SPOKE the gospel. / PRAYED the gospel. / SOUGHT the gospel. / TAUGHT the gospel; and on the subsequent page, Mahalia SANG the gospel. / WORKED the gospel. / LED the gospel. / SPREAD the gospel. Brian Pinkney echoes this parallel approach, establishing a predominant color for each spread in the loose, evocative paintings and typeface for selected text, alternating the colors until the point where the two are united and the contrasting colors combine with rich, resonant vibrancy. Comprehensive back matter, including a time line, a bibliography, a discography, an author's note, and an illustrator's note, rounds out this colorful, inspirational resource.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

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)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.