Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Magnolia Flower introduces children to Zora Neale Hurston

Magnolia Flower, by Zora Neale Hurston, Adapted by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi/Illustrated by Loveis Wise, (Sept. 2022, Amistad Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9780063098312

Ages 4-8

National Book Award Winner Dr. Ibram X. Kendi adapts Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “Magnolia Flower”, for children in this gorgeous tale of an Afro-Indigenous girl and the man she loves. Magnolia Flower is the daughter of an escaped slave named Bentley and an Indigenous woman named Swift Deer, who “had fled her own trail of tears”. Their daughter, Magnolia Flower, falls in love with a man of letters, but Bentley wants more for his daughter and tries separating the two; Magnolia Flower makes a decision to follow her heart. Dr. Kendi beautifully retells Hurston’s tale for young audiences, assuring that her legacy will continue. Loveis Wise’s digital illustrations have a gorgeous folk art quality to them, with vibrant color and a strong connection to nature. Colorful magnolias embellish the endpapers. Back matter includes a historical note on the setting of “Magnolia Flower” and an author’s note on Hurston’s work. This is the first of six classic works by Hurston that Kendi will adapt for younger audiences. A breathtaking book that deserves a place in any collection.

For more information about Zora Neale Hurston, including reading group guides, excerpts, and syllabi, visit the official website of Zora Neale Hurston’s estate.

Magnolia Flower received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.