In a nutshell:  Miriam Makeba uses her voice to spread awareness of apartheid and, although in exile herself, bring hope to her people in South Africa.


Miriam Makeba, a Grammy Award–winning South African singer, rose to fame in the hearts of her people at the pinnacle of apartheid―a brutal system of segregation similar to American Jim Crow laws. Mama Africa, as they called her, raised her voice to help combat these injustices at jazz clubs in Johannesburg; in exile, at a rally beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and before the United Nations. 

Set defiantly in the present tense, this biography offers readers an intimate view of Makeba’s fight for equality. Kathryn Erskine’s call-and-response style text and Charly Palmer’s bold illustrations come together in a raw, riveting duet of protest song and praise poem. A testament to how a single voice helped to shake up the world―and can continue to do so.

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"In his first children’s book, Palmer uses thick, forceful brushstrokes to create vibrant, abstracted portraits of Makeba and her South African home. This rousing account of how Makeba used her music to fight for equality concludes with a timeline and extensive author’s note."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A welcome addition to picture book biography collections."

School Library Journal

"An excellent perspective from which American readers can learn about apartheid and one of the pioneers who fought it through her art. "

Kirkus, starred review

"Potent quotes and song lyrics keep the intensity high, as does the clever use of words in a fierce red, often repeated to begin the subsequent page, lending the text a driving propulsion."

Horn Book, starred review

Fun Facts About MAMA AFRICA

MAMA AFRICA has been named a Notable Social Studies book by the Children's Book Council and a Notable Children's Book of 2018 by the American Library Association!

Congratulations to Charly Palmer for winning the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for Illustrator for MAMA AFRICA! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with her Song! And thanks to our wonderful editor on this project, too, Grace Kendall of Farrar Straus & Giroux!