Book details

Macmillan Children's Book

Mama Africa!

How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song

Author: Kathryn Erskine; illustrated by Charly Palmer

Mama Africa!

Mama Africa!


About This Book

A harrowing picture biography of civil-rights activist and Grammy Award-winning South African singer Miriam Makeba. National Book Award-winning author, Kathryn Erskine, pairs up with newcomer Charly Palmer to convey Makeba's contributions to the anti-Apartheid movement, including her work with Nelson Mandela.
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Book Details

An inspiring picture-book biography of iconic singer and activist Miriam Makeba by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine.

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.

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)



In The News

Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award Winner
Children's Africana Book Awards Committee: 2018 Best Book for Young Children
One of Kirkus's Best Books of 2017!

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

"Erskine’s prose style is expressionistic, with lyrical sentences that alight on significant events...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." —The Horn Book starred review

Debut illustrator Palmer’s painterly spreads shine in rich colors and bold brushstrokes, capturing the passion of Makeba mid-song... A welcome addition to picture book biography collections." —School Library Journal

About the Creators

Mama Africa!

Mama Africa!