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Maya Angelou writes to the daughters of the world

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Date published: 10/12/2008

MAYA Angelou never had a daughter. Her only child is a son, whom she adores.

But her latest book, "Letter to My Daughter," is a compilation of essays offering insight and advice to the legions of girls and women who've grown to love the author.

She writes about the value of home and of telling the truth. She writes about the artists who've inspired her, and showing respect for our ancestors by showing "ourselves as courteous and courageous well-meaning Americans. Now."

Written in Angelou's beautiful, poetic style, the essays feel like warm advice from a beloved aunt or grandmother, whose wisdom you know was earned.

Angelou's life has not been easy. As chronicled in books like "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," she grew up hard in Stamps, Ark., before going to live with her mother, who begged her daughter to simply smile.

The book is one that will continue to add to Angelou's countless fans, and one that those of us who already adore her will reread again and again.

"I gave birth to one child, a son," Angelou writes, "but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian Spanish-speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all."

Laura L. Hutchison is an editor at The Free Lance-Star.

LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER By Maya Angelou (Random House, $25)