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By and By

Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music

Illustrated by Bryan Collier
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About The Book

A stirring picture book biography from award-winning duo Carole Boston Weatherford and Bryan Collier, about gospel composer and preacher Charles Albert Tindley, best known for the gospel hymn “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.”

At a time when most African Americans were still enslaved, Charles Tindley was born free. His childhood was far from easy, with backbreaking hours in the fields, and no opportunity to go to school. But the spirituals he heard as he worked made him long to know how to read the Gospel for himself. Late at night, he taught himself to read from scraps of newspapers. From those small scraps, young Charles raised himself to become a founding father of American gospel music whose hymn was the basis for the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

Told in lilting verse with snippets of spirituals and Tindley’s own hymns woven throughout, Carole Boston Weatherford’s lyrical words and Bryan Collier’s luminous pictures celebrate a man whose music and conviction has inspired countless lives.

About The Author

Photograph © Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford has written many award-winning books for children, including Kin, illustrated by her son Jeffery and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor recipient; Box, which won a Newbery Honor; Unspeakable, which won the Coretta Scott King Award, a Caldecott Honor, and was a finalist for the National Book Award; Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; ALA Notable Children’s Book You Can Fly; and Caldecott Honor winners Freedom in Congo SquareVoice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement; and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Carole lives in North Carolina. Visit her at 

About The Illustrator

Photograph © Filip Wolak

Bryan Collier is a beloved illustrator known for his unique style combining watercolor and detailed collage. He is a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient for Trombone ShortyDave the PotterMartin’s Big Words, and Rosa. His books have won many other awards as well, including six Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. His recent books include By and By, ThurgoodThe Five O’Clock Band, and Between the Lines. He lives in New York with his family.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (January 14, 2020)
  • Length: 48 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534426368
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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Raves and Reviews

* “Simply written, evocative text . . . expressive watercolor-and-collage artwork . . . This picture book conveys that Tindley lived his life with purpose and left a lasting legacy of faith expressed through gospel music.”

– Booklist, starred review

“Weatherford tells Tindley's story in rhyming verse that captures his drive for spiritual growth, service, and musical expression. Collier's strong, vivid watercolor-and-collage illustrations enhance the text and visually depict the various facets of Tindley's life. . . . A lively salute to an important, influential life of music and service.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“Weatherford’s couplets thrum like drumbeats, and they’re interwoven with italicized lines from songs (identified in end matter as coming from spirituals that inspired Tindley and hymns he himself wrote). . . . A sonorous readaloud.”


“Weatherford’s first-person, somewhat singsong-y rhyming narrative includes italicized lines from Tindley’s hymns (some of which also appear in the art), further emphasizing the preacher’s foundation in his faith. Collier’s watercolor and collage images beautifully reflect the man’s life and times, from the wide expanse of emerald-hued fields in which Tindley labored as a child and the bright blue sky above, to luminous, larger-than-life portraits of him orating as an adult.”

– The Horn Book

“This beautiful volume will make an excellent addition to biography collections and broaden available resources for black history studies in elementary and middle school classrooms.”

– School Library Journal

“Weatherford weaves the words of hymns the figure wrote into lines that describe his slow, steady rise . . . until he became pastor of an urban church with 15,000 parishioners and wrote dozens of hymns for them to sing. Collier creates one compelling watercolor and collage spread after another, from a view of the small boy shadowed by tall trees as he trudges to church to congregants joined in song with Tindley at the pulpit. . . . Weatherford artfully champions Tindley’s achievements, and Collier portrays both the man and his life events with memorable visual power.”

– Publishers Weekly

Awards and Honors

  • Kansas NEA Reading Circle List Intermediate Title
  • NCTE Notable Poetry List
  • TX Triple Crown Gallery Nominee

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More books from this author: Carole Boston Weatherford

More books from this illustrator: Bryan Collier