Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ON HER WINGS by Jerdine Nolen


The Story of Toni Morrison

by Jerdine Nolen ; illustrated by James E. Ransome

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-5344-7852-7
Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Childhood experiences and stories work together to influence one of America’s most important writers.

Born in 1931, Toni Morrison began life as Chloe Ardelia Wofford. Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, a poor, segregated town, she enjoyed listening to stories told by her parents and grandparents. She became an excellent reader who loved the music and rhythm of words and language. At 12, she converted to Catholicism, choosing Anthony as her baptismal name. A top student, she attended Howard University, where she asked her friends, who had trouble with her name, to call her Toni. When she married Harold Morrison, an architect, she became Toni Morrison. Work as an editor stirred her desire to tell stories, especially those centering the African American experience. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, launched her writing career, and over the years, she was recognized with many awards, including the Nobel Prize in literature. Her work always reflected the stories and language of her first storytellers. This introduction to Morrison’s life and influences demonstrates how much she was shaped by the experiences of her childhood. As an author of both adult titles and books for younger readers, her path will be of interest to readers of picture-book biographies. Nolen uses evocative language, while Ransome’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations complement and enhance the text with fluidity and a warm palette. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An uplifting glimpse into the life of one of America’s most distinguished writers.

(author’s note, list of books by Morrison, important quotes, resources, list of achievements) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)