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GO FORTH AND TELL by Breanna J. McDaniel Kirkus Star


The Life of Augusta Baker, Librarian and Master Storyteller

by Breanna J. McDaniel ; illustrated by April Harrison

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 2024
ISBN: 9780593324202
Publisher: Dial Books

A tribute to the storied lioness of the New York Public Library.

Raised in Baltimore on her grandmother’s tales, Augusta Braxton Baker (1911-1998) grew up with the deep certainty that stories are powerful. Powerful enough to make Augusta realize her true calling, “guiding children of all ages through the wide and wonderful spaces of her stories.” Powerful enough to bring her to the 135th Street Branch of the NYPL, where she introduced young readers such as James Baldwin and Audre Lorde to the words that would inspire them to write their own. Powerful enough to anchor Augusta’s lifelong advocacy for uplifting representations of Black people, to forge a network of educator activists from Carter G. Woodson to Charlemae Rollins, and to send Augusta around the world to teach and tell her stories. Intricate details will draw novice readers back to the pages, while more experienced readers will find a treasure trove of biographical sources. There’s thoughtfulness here in the craft and pacing of her prose, certainly; reverence, too, in the textured layers of Harrison’s mixed-media and visual storytelling. But more than anything, simple care is evident. Care for a Black librarian who sought out every gap a tale could bridge, who shattered barriers to ensure Black children would see themselves on library shelves, and whose legacy continues to this day exactly as it began—in the thrall of good stories.

The Master Storyteller returns to storytime at last.

(author’s note, timeline, sources) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)