A crown of stories The life and language of beloved writer Toni Morrison

Carole Boston Weatherford, 1956-

Book - 2024

How do you tell a story? Before Toni Morrison was a Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel Prize-winning author, she was Chloe Ardelia Wofford, a little girl in Ohio who was both the only Black child in her first-grade classroom and the only student who was able to read. This is the true story of how that young girl learned from her upbringing, surrounded herself with stories, and made a tremendous impact on the world. Toni Morrison's pen was her sword, and she grew to be a titan of the arts. Her legacy is one that still touches readers to this day. Expertly and evocatively told by award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford, with beautiful painted illustrations by Khalif Tahir Thompson, this is a must-have picture book biography for any... collection. It celebrates Toni Morrison's legacy while inspiring readers to create art, believe in themselves, and strive for greatness.

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jBIOGRAPHY/Morrison, Toni
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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room New Shelf jBIOGRAPHY/Morrison, Toni (NEW SHELF) Due May 22, 2024
Picture books
New York, NY : Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 2024.
Main Author
Carole Boston Weatherford, 1956- (author)
Other Authors
Khalif Tahir Thompson (illustrator)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Ages 4-8.
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

For those interested in learning more about the pioneering, award-winning adult author, Morrison, Weatherford's picture-book biography fits the bill, especially given its extensive bibliography, which will lead fascinated readers to a library's worth of critical material. This is also an excellent book to read to younger children whose adults savor Morrison's works and appreciate her for being the first Black woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. Paintings by Thompson, which blend oils, acrylics, and torn-paper collage, emphasize Morrison's dignity and intent whether reading voraciously as a child, playing Queen Elizabeth I in a college play, writing as a young mother, or accepting the Nobel Prize in Sweden. Both Weatherford's narrative and Thompson's art also importantly put Morrison's life and work in context of her times, starting with the Great Migration that brought her parents north to Ohio and going on to Morrison's reception by President Obama at the White House. Public and school libraries will want to have this title in their collections.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

"How do you tell a story?" begins this thoughtful tribute to writer Toni Morrison (1931--2019), born Chloe Ardelia Wofford. Starting with Morrison's family's move north as part of the Great Migration, Boston Weatherford (Kin) highlights the child's listening--"to your mother's ghost stories/ and your grandfather's violin"--as key to her learning the art of storytelling. The only Black child in her first grade class, and the only student who can read, she devours books at home "like Sunday supper," while learning to "listen to your surroundings"--including, due to racism and financial precarity, "the packing and unpacking/ of your family's possessions." As she matures, she studies English literature, then becomes a college professor, the first Black senior editor in publishing, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize--winning writer--and, additionally, "a bridge" listening "to the silence for voices/ that have been muted far too long." Attending closely observed second-person text that puts the reader in Morrison's shoes, debut artist Tahir Johnson combines media, including paint and collage, lending textured depth to portraits of a creator whose stories "get under our skin, next to our hearts, and inside our souls." An author's note and timeline conclude. Ages 4--8. (Apr.) ■

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 1--5--Renowned author Toni Morrison is celebrated in the latest offering from Weatherford. The opening line, "How do you tell a story?" is answered in Weatherford's signature style, weaving together events from Morrison's remarkable personal and professional life in a series of poetic verses. From her struggles as a Black woman coming to adulthood in the 1950s to her triumphant successes--becoming a prolific author, the first Black senior editor at a major publishing house, a Princeton professor, and winning both a Pulitzer and a Nobel prize--Morrison's life is set against a backdrop of stunning, vividly colored illustrations created with paint, collage, and stencils. This combination of vibrant images with compelling text, told in second-person narrative throughout, gives readers a visceral experience often missing from biographies written for children. The pacing is skewed; on some pages the text is confined to a short paragraph, while on others it fills almost all of the available space. However, the strength of the writing and the outstanding illustrations make up for this. Back matter includes an author's note, bibliography, and time line, which includes historical events not mentioned in the text. VERDICT In addition to being a useful mentor text on the second-person voice, this is an excellent addition to biography collections and displays highlighting Black and Women's History months.--Sue Morgan

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

In an expressive second-person text addressed to her subject, Weatherford celebrates the life and legacy of the esteemed novelist, professor, and Nobel Laureate. Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison (1931-2019) falls under the "spell of the spoken word" at an early age. Weatherford emphasizes Morrison's trailblazing firsts (first in her family to attend college, first Black senior editor in publishing, first Black woman Nobel Laureate), beginning with first grade: she is the only Black girl in her class, and "the only one who can read. All by yourself." The act of listening is an organizing theme: listening to music and stories as a girl, "to your surroundings," "to your heart," to students and colleagues, to "overlooked and underrepresented" Black voices. When she moves to Washington, DC, to attend Howard University, ­Morrison becomes even more keenly aware of pervasive racial injustice, heeding "the call to conscience...vowing to write about and for Black people." Thompson's stunning artwork, rendered in "acrylic, oil paint, collage, handmade paper, and stencils on canvas board," has a dignity that reflects Morrison's stature in the literary world. The varied compositions are alive with texture and color, and a regal portrait of Morrison in the role of Queen Elizabeth I for a college theater production is especially powerful. Both the reverent art and the text provide an intimate glimpse into Morrison's remarkable life story. An author's note, a detailed timeline, and a bibliography are appended. Pauletta Brown BracyMay/June 2024 p.162 (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Family stories and a love of learning were seeds planted in the child who would become one of the world's most important writers. Born in 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, Chloe Ardelia Wofford grew up listening to her mother's singing and stories and her grandfather's violin. The musicality and narratives remained with her, as did a love of language. She started to read early, the only child in her first grade class to do so. She continued to listen to and absorb the world around her, developing skills that eventually sent her to Howard University. There she adopted the name Toni as she studied English literature and drama; she also met Harold Morrison, whom she would later marry. She witnessed firsthand the racism that existed in the nation's capital. As a professor, then as an editor, she promoted neglected works of Black writers. While managing motherhood and a career, she began to craft her own novels and built a unique body of work that captured the attention of the world; in 1993, she won the Nobel Prize in Literature--"the first Black woman so honored." Writing in second person and addressing Morrison herself, Weatherford skillfully weaves together the various aspects of the writer's life in a lyrical account that flows and reveals her rich contributions. Weatherford emphasizes the role of listening, grounding Morrison in her family and community. Making wonderful use of collage, Thompson's evocative paintings enhance the text, beginning with a striking cover image. Transcendent and deeply resonant. (author's note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture-book biography. 4-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.