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Circle Unbroken Paperback – December 26, 2007
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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.
*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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