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The Vine Basket Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547848013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547848013
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-9-Present-day East Turkestan is the setting for this compelling novel of a Uyghur girl's struggle to hold on to hope in the midst of poverty and oppression. Mehrigul, 14, has been forced by her embittered father to leave school and work on their farm, filling the role of her older brother, who has left the family to seek a better life. She must assume the responsibilities of her depressed and powerless mother; show respect for her father, who drinks and gambles away their meager earnings; and face the growing threat that she will be sent to work in a factory in southern China. On market day, an American woman offers a large sum of money to purchase a grapevine basket Mehrigul has made and asks her to make more, and the teen recognizes that her life could change. With the help and emotional support of her beloved grandfather and the drive to assure that her younger sister stays in school, Mehrigul begins making the baskets, slowly discovering her own talent and creativity, only to be thwarted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The vivid and authentic sense of place, custom, and politics serves as an effective vehicle for the skillfully characterized, emotionally charged story. Mehrigul's dawning awareness of what it means to be an artist as well as her anger, frustration, and fear are palpable, conveying a true sense of the iron will underlying her submissiveness. The realistic and satisfying resolution will resonate with readers, even as they learn the fascinating details of an unfamiliar culture. An endnote and afterword provide valuable historical background. An absorbing read and an excellent choice for expanding global understanding.-Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

A stranger had thought her simple twist of vines to be of value. This thought buoys Mehrigul, a Uyghur (a Turkic ethnic group), even while her impoverished family struggles to exist in the northwest region of China once known as East Turkestan, where ethnic populations, as in Tibet, are being culturally marginalized. Mehrigul endeavors to become an artisan whose basketry is appreciated. Of course, more is at stake than selling some baskets to an interested American woman. Because the girl’s disgruntled gambler father needs her to do farmwork, she is no longer attending school and, therefore, is a target for government cadres to send south to work in a factory. A grandfather who believes in her gift inspires her determination to make something worthy for her benefactor’s shop and dream of a different life. La Valley’s debut is at times slowed by copious amounts of background on the region and its residents’ daily lives. But when the focus is squarely on Mehrigul, it both engages and teaches. Grades 5-8. --Karen Cruze

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 29 customer reviews
I was really impressed by how much research went into this book.
In light of what is happening to the Uyghur culture, this is a fairly important story in light of current and past history.
She perserves against all odds with determination and humility, making her a great role model for anyone.
Enchanted In Dixie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an engrossing tale about an Uyghur girl living in East Turkestan [now part of China]. I knew nothing of these people or what they face under Han Chinese rule, and I found this book absolutely fascinating. It is quite educational, but also completely entertaining because you see it all through the lens of the main character's life and struggles.

The story is beautifully written, so poignant that I cried in parts. The author is a masterful story teller, bringing you fully into the scene and into the heart and mind of the heroine. I read the whole book in 24 hours because I literally could not put it down.

If you've ever wondered who it is that works in all those Chinese factories making all the cheap plastic garbage that we buy here in the West, this book will answer that question for you. I wanted so badly for the heroine to break free and to have a happy ending. I won't reveal whether that happened or not, I will only say that this is an amazing book that has forever changed the way I look at the world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By fredtownward VINE VOICE on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Young Uighur girl Mehrigul has a host of problems. Her father is an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler who drinks or gambles away most of the family's meager farm earnings, her mother is an enabler who spends most of her time withdrawn into her own little pity party of a world, her grandfather is nearly blind, which has limited his basket weaving contributions to the family income, her only brother has been forced to flee after protesting against the oppressive Chinese government, and her baby sister is too young to be of much help, so most of the burden has fallen squarely upon her 14-year-old shoulders, forcing her to drop out of school, which makes her eligible to be forcibly sent off to work in a factory in the south of China.

(With tens if not hundreds of millions of poor rural Chinese who'd kill to get such jobs, you may well wonder why the Chinese government would be forcing female minorities to cut ahead of them in line. The reason appears to be a deliberate policy to reduce Uighur numbers. The supposed-to-be-at-least-16-but-often-younger girls who go off to factory jobs rarely return home to Xinjiang/East Turkestan to marry Uighur boys and produce more Uighur babies. Some of them even marry Chinese men, thus helping to solve the gender imbalance produced by the one-child-policy, which doesn't apply to members of minorities like the Uighur.)

But then, a ray of hope unexpectedly appears.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Wong VINE VOICE on March 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Vine Basket by Josanne LaValley is definitely worthy of five stars. It is beautifully written and gives you an inside look into what it is like to be a Uyghur (pronounced as Wee ghur) girl. They are a Turkish ethnic group but live mostly in an area now considered as a part of China. My husband and I think he is descended from this group so I have a special interest in this culture.

The star of this little book is Mehigul, a little girl who is forced to stop her education by her father. Her brother has run off to join a political movement. Her father who is a compulsive drinker and gambler thinks that she should do her older brother's work. Her mother is afraid to speak up against the father and lets her husband dictate what Mehigul has to do. The father's poor opinion of Mehigul makes her think that she is worthless.

But Mehigul's grandfather, Chong Ata, the most respected member of the family notices that Mehigul is learning his talent and skills at basket weaving. She watches him weave and picks it up by herself. What is more is that she has a great spark of creativity. It is this creativity that changes her life. Even though the customs of this culture are very different, the lessons are the same. Parents must learn how to respect their children.

I really enjoyed this little book. I learned about the foods that they ate, the way that the Uyghur decorate their mud houses with beautiful floral clothes, the hard lives demanded in order to keep their children fed and the sand out of their faces. But most important I learned about ways that children can find to escape forced child labor, get the education that they need and get the respect that they badly need from their parents.

I highly recommend this book for middle grade children and above.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Darian Burns on April 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"The Vine Basket" is about a young girl called Mehrigul who would like attend school in her tiny community in China. She is part of the Uyghur ethnic group, but since her brother Memet has run off, she has had to stay home and help with the family farm. If Mehrigul does not go back to school before long, the district authority can send her off to labor in factories. There is a small opportunity of hope-- an American lady has bought one of Mehrigul's vine baskets for the large amount of 100 yuan and has said she will return in three weeks to purchase more. Mehrigul contends with a number of impediments to making more baskets, including her pop's drinking and gambling, as well as out-and-out destruction of her attempts, but perseveres.

"The Vine Basket" would be good for many young readers in America because they are woefully uninformed of the difficulties faced by their equals in other nations, and any book that shows them is one that should be read. It is difficult for us to appreciate how devalued females in other societies can be, but Mehrigul's frustrated efforts bring this home. The story has a few minor issues with redundancy and could have been shorter which would have made the plot and action move more swiftly. However, the book is well worth a read, and if I were still teaching Middle School, it would be on my list.
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