by Zora Neale Hurston; adapted by Ibram X. Kendi; illustrated by Loveis Wise
Antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi has adapted a short story first published by Zora Neale Hurston in 1925 into a picture book folktale. Narrated by The Mighty River, as told to a lively and childlike brook, this story begs to be read aloud. It shares the forbidden love between Magnolia Flower and John, but the story begins before that with Magnolia's parents. Her father Bentley escapes from enslavement, and falls in love with a Cherokee woman named Swift Deer. They live together in a free community known as Maroons. Disagreeing on what is best for their beloved daughter, Swift Deer approves of John and the magic of the words he teaches Magnolia Flower to read. But Bentley disapproves of John and locks him in a room. Magnolia frees John, and together they escape on the waters of The Mighty River. The story comes full circle when Magnolia and John return to the site of their escape, 47 years later. The illustrations by Loveis Wise draw readers in, from the beautiful portrait of heroine Magnolia Flower on the cover, to the vibrant end papers. A historical note and note from the author add to the richness of this adaptation. Dr. Kendi shares "Love is a consistent theme in Hurston's work and again in this book....A love story of freedom. A love story of nature. A love story of Afro-indigenous resistance. A love story of home."
See the Jones Library Antiracism Book List for recommended titles for all ages.