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Circle Unbroken Paperback – December 26, 2007

14 customer reviews

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Circle Unbroken + Sweetgrass Baskets and the Gullah Tradition  (SC)  (Images of America) + Row upon Row: Sea Grass Baskets of the South Carolina Lowcountry
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 5-A book about the origins of the intricate technique and art of basket making as preserved by the Africans who were brought to America as slaves and their descendants. A grandmother guides her granddaughter's hands as she teaches her the art of basket sewing. When the child asks her how she came to make baskets, the woman's answer harkens back to a time when one of their ancestors, the child's "old-timey grandfather," is being initiated into manhood in a village in Africa. Part of the rite involves being able to make a grass basket woven or coiled so tightly that it can hold water. Soon after this event, the young man is captured, transported to America, and sold as a slave at an auction in Charleston, SC. During the day he works the fields, but by night he makes baskets, and this skill is passed down from one generation to the next. Raven's text masterfully frames several hundred years of African-American history within the picture-book format. Lewis's double-page, watercolor images are poignant and perfectly matched to the text and mood. A section at the end of the book offers information about the "coil" or "Gullah" baskets, as they are known today, as well as the regions of Africa where this art form originated. This title works as both a story and informational book; consider it as a first purchase.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* PreS-Gr. 3. A child today learns from her grandmother how to make a sweet grass Gullah basket, a craft that her ancestors brought with them from West Africa to South Carolina and Georgia. The clear poetic words and exquisite watercolor illustrations depict how the small circular basket holds the big circle of African American history "past slavery and freedom, old ways and new." Far across the ocean, the child's ancestor learned as a young boy to harvest tall grassy reeds and weave them into baskets to winnow the rice. When he came as a slave to a strange land and worked in the fields, he found similar grasses and continued to weave baskets in the old way, as did the woman he married. They passed on their craft and their stories, as the child's grandmother is doing now. Rooted in daily life, the metaphors grow naturally from the weaving action, with fingers that talk and show "the road ahead was over and through." The small basket serves as a beautiful way to focus the sweep of African American history, and Lewis' astonishing pictures combine the panoramas of upheaval and war with portraits of individuals in small circles weaving and passing on their heritage in craft and story. The dramatic endpapers reinforce the strength of those ever-widening woven circles, their delicate beauty and enduring connections. A historical note and bibliography are appended. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1050L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376031
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.2 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Deyerle on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
We love the South Carolina Low Country, and are proud to own a number of sweetgrass baskets, most made by the same lady. This book was a wonderful find to share with my daughter, who is almost 4. The pictures are lovely, and the history is honest without being too brutal for younger listeners. Older readers will certainly get the depth of the slave history, while it serves as a good introduction for the younger. I found it to be a poetic and lyrical read, and a good explanation of how the art of Low Country coil basket weaving (also known as Charleston sweetgrass basket weaving) has been passed down.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rose Green on August 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If I were making a very short list of books to remember Charleston by, this would be on it. The language is lyrical and wonderful to read aloud. The illustrations are gorgeous. Both Raven and Lewis do a superb job of sharing the meaning of family ties across generations, as well as sharing the Gullah culture. I'm a newcomer to the Low Country, and I don't have any African heritage, but still, something in this story really resonated with me. Highly recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Louise Christopherson on January 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book's illustrations were very interesting and creative. The story line was an accurate dipiction of slavery and the history behind it. It connected strong family ties from generation to generation with the beautiful basket weaves and family customs. Those who are associated with the geography of the book can make a strong personal connection to the atmosphere of the book. For teaching purposes, it relates the importance of family history and bonds throught the generations. It also shows how far we've developed as a society. It would be part of our text set for slavery in our classroom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Ellingwood VINE VOICE on January 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
A very nice story about the culture of Gullah basket weaving in Charleston, NC. The learning of basket weaving is traced back to a skill learned on the continent of Africa and brought over with enslaved peoples. The descendants of the slaves continue the basket weaving process and sell their products to tourists and interested persons. Interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on August 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Seen this book in a book store in Nola, read it and had to get it for my God Children! Beautiful story with important history lessons, couldn't pass it up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pennsylvania reader on June 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love this little book--it allows culture to intertwine with giving story and comforting illustration--important message for both children and adults
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By C. Pierce on October 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a lovely well written storybook, I read it in one setting because I just couldn't put it down. This would be a great gift for anyone who loves stories with a heart and a history.
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