The childhood of the controversial African-American activist was shaped by parental love and white racism.
Writing with the fervor and intensity of a motivational speaker, Shabazz recounts her father’s early years, which were filled with the loving support and teachings of his parents as well as the hate and destruction of the Ku Klux Klan. His mother nurtured a love of learning and nature, and his father—a follower of Marcus Garvey—taught him self-pride before being murdered by the KKK. Shabazz concentrates her lengthy text on her father’s youth; she writes about his racist English teacher but does not mention his imprisonment, work for Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam or conversion to Islam anywhere in the text or in her three-page author’s note. With the passion of a preacher, she celebrates love, respect, tolerance and education without restraint, producing an overwritten text laced with an excess of flowery images. In a description of the garden that Malcolm’s mother shared with her children, she writes that it “was a testament to true and unconditional brotherhood from the earth on up to the sky, a daily lesson in acceptance and equality.” Ford’s oil paintings, framed on the page, are lush and filled with detail.
A daughter’s proud but overwrought tribute to her father and his parents. (Picture book/ biography. 7-10)