Review of Coretta’s Journey: The Life and Times of Coretta Scott King

Coretta’s Journey: The Life and Times of Coretta Scott King Coretta’s Journey: The Life and Times of Coretta Scott King
by Alice Faye Duncan; illus. by R. Gregory Christie
Intermediate    Calkins/Astra    48 pp.
9/23    9781662680045    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781662680052    $11.99

In a sophisticated, poetic picture-book biography, Duncan alternates double-page spreads featuring prose or poems in a variety of forms that highlight Coretta Scott King’s accomplishments. (“I wanted to capture the musical quality of her voice and bearing.”) Each poem highlights a significant date, such as 1927, which opens the book: “Alabama soil / A fertile plain of black earth / Coretta was born.” Lengthy prose sections expand on the poems’ topics or move the narrative forward. From her childhood in Alabama under Jim Crow to college in Ohio and studying music in Boston, Coretta followed her mother’s encouragement to “get an education and try to be somebody” and her father’s assurance that she could “do anything anyone else can do.” After Coretta’s marriage to Martin Luther King Jr., Duncan describes how the husband-and-wife team became the prominent faces of the civil rights movement and ardent proponents of nonviolent protest. Following MLK’s assassination, Coretta continued the mission and worked to establish a national holiday in honor of her husband. Duncan’s reverent tone gleams thanks to an effective combination of forthright prose and eclectic poetic forms. Christie conveys the highlights of Coretta’s life story in vivid and engaging watercolor renderings. A timeline and bibliography are appended.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Pauletta Brown Bracy
Pauletta Brown Bracy is professor of library science at North Carolina Central University. She is chair of the 2015-2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards committee and serves on the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee.

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