Fall Sneak Peek: A New Picture Book Biography of Maya Angelou

We couldn’t let Black History Month go by without sharing one of our most anticipated books of Fall 2019: Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya AngelouWritten by award-winning biographer Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by fine artist Tonya Engel, Rise! will be the first in-depth picture book biography of Dr. Angelou and will be published ahead of the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Angelou’s masterpiece, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Written in verse,  Rise! looks at a life marked by transformation and perseverance, from Angelou’s early days in Arkansas to her later work as a freedom fighter and triumphant rise as a poet. Angelou’s path out of silence after sexual assault holds a particular poignancy in the context of today’s #metoo discussions.

interior illustration from Rise

Rise! will introduce Angelou’s work and life to a new generation of young readers. “Maya’s poetry is like music: powerful, playful and profound,” says author Bethany Hegedus. “Once you read her words or hear her voice read her words, the lines live inside of you, and beat like the thrum of your own heartbeat. Maya’s work is very personal and yet when her words are heard, we all feel heard.”

Hegedus reached out to the Caged Bird Legacy and the agency that represents Angelou’s literary estate, both of which have been involved since the book’s beginning. A foreword by Colin Johnson, Angelou’s grandson, describes how a love of literature and poetry helped Angelou turn adversity into triumph.

Tonya Engel, a self-taught painter whose work is inspired by Southern folk artists, created lyrical illustrations of figurative form mixed with emotion. “Linking stories with visuals is my greatest joy,” Engel said.

Rise spread 2
Interior illustration from Rise

Look for Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou in August 2019, and look out for a full cover reveal soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *