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Basket Moon

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In a lyrical, elegant coming-of-age picture book, a boy begins to doubt his heritage when he hears taunts of "hillbilly" and "bushwhacker, " while accompanying his father to the big city. Color illustrations throughout.

After hearing some men call his father and him hillbillies on his first trip into the nearby town of Hudson, a young boy is not so sure he still wants to become a basket maker.

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Overview

In a lyrical, elegant coming-of-age picture book, a boy begins to doubt his heritage when he hears taunts of "hillbilly" and "bushwhacker, " while accompanying his father to the big city. Color illustrations throughout.

After hearing some men call his father and him hillbillies on his first trip into the nearby town of Hudson, a young boy is not so sure he still wants to become a basket maker.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Magazine
In this empathetic tale, the basket moon is each full moon, signifying the time for taking a load of carefully crafted baskets into town to exchange for groceries and dry goods. Narrated by an unnamed boy, the account of a New York mountain family at perhaps the turn of the century is nicely framed as history lesson and coming-of-age story. Living in the sparsely populated highlands of Columbia County, the family of three have two helpers, Big Joe and Mr. Cooens. The boy explains how the men cut the trees and pounded the logs with mallets to free the splint ribbons, and then how his father bends and weaves the splints into sturdy baskets. Barbara Cooney's paintings, large and small views in oil pastels and acrylic, offer both a fine sweep and nice details of landscape, basketmaking, home life, the seasons, and the town of Hudson. She deftly conveys the time and place and also the boy's watchfulness and longing for the time when he will accompany his father to town. His excitement in finally seeing the shops and buying bananas off a boat is rudely squelched by finger-pointing townsmen hurling epithets: A tisket, a tasket, hillbilly basket. That's all a bushwhacker knows. The culminating sequence, in which the boy begins to share the men's understanding of the trees and the calling of their craft, is beautifully conveyed by author and artist alike. An author's note tells a bit about the basket-making tradition in Columbia County.
Krystyna Poray Goddu
Adults who appreciate handicrafts will treasure Basket Moon and want to share it with their children.
Riverbank Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weaving in authentic details as seamlessly as Pa weaves the splints in his baskets, Ray Mud; Pianna pays homage not only to a time-honored craft, but to the way traditions link one generation to the next. A boy growing up in the hills above the Hudson Valley longs to accompany his father to town, where each month he takes his baskets to sell: "He always went when the moon was round, to have it for a lantern if he was late returning." As the seasons turn, the boy continues to watch and wait, listening to the stories Pa tells, observing the men at their basket weaving. Then after his ninth birthday, "I began to see Pa studying me the way he checked a basket when it was finished"; at the next full moon the boy is allowed to go to town. The journey opens the world to him, in more ways than one; the boy will never view his life the same way again. Ray's subtle symbolism and poetic language create a story that will linger with readers for many moons. And Cooney's Ox-Cart Man scenes are as pristine as the narrative. From countryside to bustling early- 20th-century metropolis, her deft brush picks out a few carefully chosen details to balance the ethereal simplicity of each scene: delicate fern fronds decorate the forest's undergrowth; a boy's red mittens counterpoint the muted grays of a winter scene; the iron filigree on a rooftop in town adds an elegant touch to the skyline. Author and artist unite in a tribute to the natural world humanity, and their abiding interconnectedness. Ages 4-8. Sept. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Each month when the moon was full, the little boy longed to accompany his basket-making father as he left the hills to go to town to sell his wares. Finally, when the boy was nine, his father invited him, but the excitement over the sights and smells was quashed when the men in the town square jeered and called them "hillbillies" and "bushwhackers." The young boy felt ashamed until he understood the words of Big Joe, one of his father's helpers, "Some learn the language of the wind...and sing it into music...The wind taught us to weave it into baskets." Ray's quiet story evokes an earlier time when the people in the hills of Columbia County, New York crafted beautiful baskets that today can be seen in museums. She successfully links strong family ties, the basket-making skills passed from one generation to another and pride in one's work. Cooney's folk-art style is a perfect match, providing details of the era and the ruggedness of the hill people. Her palette varies with the change of seasons and time of day making each page fresh and interesting.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3 This engaging book tells about a young boy's coming-of-age in an isolated rural community around the turn of the last century, and about the special baskets made by the people who live in the hills above the Hudson River. For years, the child has been eager to join his father on his monthly walk to the nearby town to sell the baskets. Pa always goes at the time of the "basket moon" (the full moon) because he needs its light to find his way home. Finally, after the boy's ninth birthday, he accompanies his father to town. He is excited by all the new things he sees there, but when a townie taunts them with "A tisket, a tasket, hillbilly basket! That's all a bushwhacker knows," he is devastated. He wants nothing further to do with basket making and wants his family to stop, too. One of his father's helpers, seeing the boy's distress, helps him to understand the artistic nature of their craft, and to value such work. The story is told by the boy in lyrical prose, and is graced by Cooney's soft-hued oil-and-acrylic paintings. The artist makes the mountains and forests glow with a suffused light that enhances their beauty and softens the family's hard life, and she artistically incorporates the various steps of basket making described in the text. An afterword explains a little of the history of these baskets and the people who made them. A luminous and deeply satisfying look back in time. Virginia Golodetz, Children's Literature New England, Burlington, VT Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A touchingly luminous tale based on true stories of basket-weaving families outside of Hudson, New York. Every spring a boy helps the men make baskets from tree splints and twigs. He yearns to accompany his dad to Hudson to sell the baskets, but it's not until he turns nine that his father agrees to take him along. At first he's overwhelmed by the sights, both indoors and out, but his trip is soon marred by the taunts of others, who call his people "bushwhackers" and "hillbillies." Returning home, the boy feels ashamed of his family's trade, and in a fit of anger, kicks over the piles of baskets in the barn. Big Joe explains how they must listen to the wind in order to weave their baskets. The boy realizes that his gifts are far more meaningful than the comments of bullies. Ray's eloquent story is matched by Cooney's poetic paintings, which are graced by moonlight or leaf-dappled sunlight. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316735216
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.87 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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