Beauty, Her Basket

Beauty, Her Basket

by Sandra Belton, Cozbi A. Cabrera
     
 

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Sea grass basket . . .

Sweetgrass basket . . .

Beauty, Her Basket.

"I stick my nose inside the basket as far as it can go. I want to smell its secrets."

Sandra Belton and Cozbi A. Cabrera invite you to the Sea Islands, where a young girl, her cousin Victor, and their Nana are spending the summer together. Therewill be stories to

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Overview

Sea grass basket . . .

Sweetgrass basket . . .

Beauty, Her Basket.

"I stick my nose inside the basket as far as it can go. I want to smell its secrets."

Sandra Belton and Cozbi A. Cabrera invite you to the Sea Islands, where a young girl, her cousin Victor, and their Nana are spending the summer together. Therewill be stories to share and pictures to see and secrets worth knowing. Secrets about these times and the old times and tomorrow, too.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Spending her summer with her Nana, a member of the Sea Islands' Gullah community, a girl learns how the tradition of weaving baskets from seagrass represents her ancestors' indomitable spirit in the face of slavery. "So much ugly in the slave times," Nana tells her grandchildren, explaining the name of the eponymous basket. "Much too much ugly. But the basket like the flower-always a child of beauty. No matter what." The text is leisurely paced and lengthy, with much of Nana's dialogue written in a lilting Gullah dialect (the narrator speaks standard English). But the book's rewards are well worth the close attention the writing demands. Belton (From Miss Ida's Porch) has a lovely way with a phrase: Nana "makes her hand dance," when she wants to beckon the narrator's less-than-beloved cousin, also a summer visitor; as the girl struggles to craft one of the pedestal-like baskets, she notices that "every time I lean close to pull the grass tight, I can smell the sea on my hands." Cabrera follows suit with naif acrylic pictures that immerse readers in the locale's earthy exoticism. The illustrations make all of the elements of the story-from the moist, salty coastal air to Nana's enveloping embraces-feel magical and almost palpable. A quiet treasure. Ages 5-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A young girl visiting her grandmother for the summer in the Sea Islands learns the story of the sea grass basket called Beauty, Her Basket. From Miss Mary, Nana's neighbor, the little girl learns to weave the sweet grass into a basket while listening to the stories of the "old black men" who brought from Africa " a lot of knowing with them." The soft cadence of the Gullah language moves this introspective story along at the languid pace of a hot Sea Islands summer day. Vibrant, lush paintings pulsate with the sights, sounds, and colors of the sea. A rich, tropical palette infuses the gentle story with warmth. In the handsome double-page spreads is all the joy, sorrow, and hope of a people, a way of life, and a craft that is slowly disappearing. Best shared as a read aloud this intergenerational tale will hopefully spark discussion. 2004, Greenwillow, Ages 5 to 9.
—Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Inside Nana's house in the Sea Islands is a basket that smells of the sea and is woven from grasses that grow by the shore. Nana calls it "Beauty, Her Basket." Her granddaughter, intrigued by this curious name, wants to know its origin, and, on the day this story takes place, Nana has promised to tell her. She explains how "Way back in the olden day" those "made to slave" brought with them from Africa the secrets of how to make nets for catching fish, pots for carrying water from the sea, and "the knowing of how to make the basket." And, although so much was ugly in the slave times, the basket, like flowers, is "always a child of beauty." Nana's Gullah patois and the serious subject matter make this a somewhat challenging book. Full-bleed illustrations in darkly brilliant acrylics float and swirl across the page, complementing the lush, evocative tone of the text. Libraries with a focus on regional literature will want to purchase this one.-Anna DeWind Walls, Milwaukee Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cabrera displays rare sensitivity to color and light in this children's debut, illustrating Belton's account of a child's visit to Sea Island relatives with scenes of dark-skinned, brightly dressed figures against impressionistic swirls of sand, sun, and images from the past. Delighted by the gracefully woven sea grass basket in which her Nana gathers flowers, the young narrator starts a basket of her own, then learns how her ancestors "made to slave" carried the skills to create such distinctive everyday objects from Africa. Nana tells her tale in Gullah cadences-"Look here. The sun almost de red for down! Time for me to tie my mouth and us to get home"-as evocative as the art. It's not hard to find tales in which children, encircled by a loving family, explore links between their past and present, but this is a particularly moving variation on the theme. (Picture book. 7-9)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688178215
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/23/2003
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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