By Booklist

In merely 48 pages, Maya Angelou’s remarkable life is presented in full, through rhythmic free verse that emphasizes her formative years. With so much being covered, the language—accessible, fluid, and often lovely in the paced-out early years—tends to drag under the quick-turning logistics of Angelou’s adult life. We glimpse her as a dancer, mother, poet, and activist in St. Louis, Stamps, San Francisco, Cairo, and Harlem. The work of metaphor often falls to Engel, whose sweeping oil and acrylics lend depth and power to the text. An especially dark moment is presented with care: “One day, Maya left alone / with Mr. Freeman, / is anything but free.” A man’s shadow is cast over Maya’s bedroom wall, with the little girl curled up on her bed, afraid. Back matter—including a full time line and selected bibliography—names the sexual assault and offers resources for readers in need of support. A foreword frames this biography as an opportunity for conversation, hoping that children may learn from the courage displayed by Angelou, and so it is.