Circle Unbroken: The Story of a Basket and Its People

by Margot Theis Raven and E.B. Lewis

A grandmother connects the past with the present for her granddaughter as she teaches... read more

A grandmother connects the past with the present for her granddaughter as she teaches her how to make a sweetgrass basket. In doing so, she is bestowing two gifts on the child: the skill of basket weaving and the story of her past, which stretches back many generations to Africa. The grandmother tells the girl of a young man in Africa who was taught to weave a basket, “Just as I am teaching you...” His basket pleased the elders of his village, “Just as I am pleased with you...” Margot Theis Raven’s moving story briefly but powerfully traces the history of African Americans through the child’s family history, chronicling kidnappers in Africa and slavery in the United States, the Civil War and new hope, changing times and new challenges. Through it all, there are two constants: the passing of the skilled tradition and the love of parents and elders for children—always affirmed, just as the grandmother affirms her grandchild in many ways. The unbroken circle that the basket represents embraces the past and present, weaving them into the future. An author’s note provides additional information about sweetgrass or “Gullah” baskets from the coastal islands off of South Carolina, where the story is set. E.B. Lewis’s full-page illustrations are stirring, resonant with emotion. (Ages 6–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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