Author: Zora Neale Hurston, and Ibram X. Kendi
Illustrator: Loveis Wise
Page Count: 40
Published: September 6, 2022
From beloved African American folklorist, Zora Neale Hurston, comes a moving adaptation by National Book Award winner and #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist and Antiracist Baby, Ibram X. Kendi. Magnolia Flower follows a young Afro-Indigenous girl who longs for freedom and is gorgeously illustrated by Loveis Wise (The People Remember, Ablaze with Color).
Born to parents who fled slavery and the Trail of Tears, Magnolia Flower is a girl with a vibrant spirit. Not to be deterred by rigid ways of the world, she longs to connect with others, who too long for freedom. She finds this in a young man of letters who her father disapproves of. In her quest to be free, Magnolia must make a choice and set off on a journey that will prove just how brave one can be when leading with one’s heart.
The acclaimed writer of several American classics, Zora Neale Hurston wrote this stirring folktale brimming with poetic prose, culture, and history. It was first published as a short story in The Spokesman in 1925 and later in her collection Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick (2020).
Tenderly retold by #1 New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi, Magnolia Flower is a story of a transformative and radical devotion between generations of Indigenous and Black people in America. With breathtaking illustrations by Loveis Wise, this picture book reminds us that there is no force strong enough to stop love.
A true launchpad for recentering the narrative of U.S. history, honoring Zora Neale Hurston and her legacy, and building cultural awareness and sensitivity. (5 STARS!) — Common Sense Media
Both the lyrical text and the flowing digital illustrations let the theme of love running through Hurston’s stories shine. — Horn Book Magazine
"[A] powerful example of Black and Native resistance—an aspect of history that far too often goes undiscussed. Wise’s earth-toned, opalescent illustrations make the trees, water, and flowers feel just as key to the tale as the humans. The excellent marriage between lyrical text and stunning visuals makes for a moving, memorable story. An artfully rendered tale of life and love that also conveys an essential but often overlooked chapter in U.S. history." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Digital illustrations from Wise (The People Remember) make for a bountiful, nature-centered accompaniment to this romance set against the changing landscape of freedom for Black and Indigenous peoples. — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Freedom forges a path to love. Kendi uses poetic and accessible prose to restate Hurston's historical truths. [Wise’s] gentle digital illustrations have a vivaciousness that reinforces the depth of Hurston's characters as well as the vastness of the world encompassing them. — Shelf Awareness (starred review)
I hope that the luminous spirit of the GREAT Zora Neale Hurston is forever shining down on Loveis and Ibram for their most gracious retelling of this sweet yet powerful folktale; a declaration of love. — Derrick Barnes, Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Honor, NY Times Bestseller, Ezra Jack Keats Award and the two-time Kirkus Prize winner
Digital illustrations are a real complement to the story, creating a lush landscape filled with beautifully drawn flora. Bright pinks, yellows, and aqua blues fill each page and are a perfect accompaniment for lyrical text. — School Library Journal
[A] pleasing introduction to Hurston's oeuvre. — Booklist
Kendi adapted this 1925 short story about Afro-Indigenous love and resistance into a picture book so children wouldn’t have to wait to absorb Hurston’s rich folkloric tales. — New York Times Book Review