Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou

Written by: Bethany Hegedus, forward by Colin Johnson

Illustrated by: Tonya Engel

For ages: 7-10 years 

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figure, Writer, Activism, Activist.

Summary: This is an incredible and lyrical retelling of Maya Angelou’s life, I was hooked instantly upon opening the book.  The poetic words take the reader through the life of Maya from a young girl being sent to live with her grandmother all the way through adulthood when she writes her acclaimed poem “Still, I Rise”, and until her death.

As a mute child (due to the assault she endured, briefly touched on in the book but not explicitly mentioning what happened to her) she was struck by the power of words, and books save her as she is shuttled back and forth between her grandmother’s home and her mother’s.  Maya becomes a dancer and works many jobs to support her young son Guy. Maya is introduced to the activist work being done for the Modern Black Freedom Struggle and lends her voice to the cause.  Maya throws herself into the struggle, rising again and again from the violence that causes famous organizers to be lost forever.  She is close with Malcolm X and MLK Jr., working alongside them and the thousands of other activists doing grassroots organizing, inching towards equity.

In the back of the book is a detailed timeline of Maya’s life, and photographs of her.  This book is incredibly beautiful and gives a comprehensive view of all that Maya achieved throughout her life, as well as the hardship she endured and rose above.  Tonya Engels’ breathtaking illustrations provide a dreamlike quality to the book.  We really can’t say enough good about this book, it should be required reading for everyone!

About the Author & the Illustrator:


Bethany Hegedus, our Founder and Creative Director, is an award-winning author and an in-demand writing instructor and international speaker. Bethany holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Her books include the award-winning Grandfather Gandhi and Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, both co-written with Arun Gandhi, grandson to the Mahatma, and illustrated by Evan Turk. The Grandfather Gandhi books join Bethany‚Äôs novels Truth with a Capital T and Between us Baxters in gracefully handling race, class and diversity issues. She also wrote Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, which hit shelves in January 2018.


Leave a Reply