Shaker Boy

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Winter's (Diego) primitive-style art, notable for its intense hues, unusual juxtaposition of color and strength of line, is the perfect foil to this story of a boy whose widowed mother sends him to live at a Shaker community. Ray (Pianna) skillfully weaves fact and a touch of fancy (Caleb hears "angels") into an absorbing, informative tale. As readers watch Caleb grow from youth to manhood, they gain an understanding of the Shaker creed, including its reverence for a way of life firmly rooted in the cycle of seasons. Caleb's first job is in the hen house (the kitchen needs 280 eggs each morning for breakfast), then he progresses to the cow barn, the broom shop, sugaring off, planting and harvesting, and the print shop, where he prints the songs he has learned and makes them into a book. Along the way, the angels teach Caleb songs, lyrics and scores of which are incorporated into the text. Finally, Caleb is made deacon of the apple orchard, where he spends the remainder of his life gathering apples-and songs. It's a work of craftsmanship on all levels: exceptionally well written, elegantly designed and lovingly illustrated. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-When six-year-old Caleb is sent to live with the Shakers of Canterbury, New Hampshire, he does not understand their beliefs or their way of life. He does his best, though, to follow their rules, do his many chores, and attend their meetings. Over time, he comes to accept both the faith and lifestyle of his numerous Shaker brothers and sisters. At the age of 19, he is appointed deacon of the apple orchard, which shelters a very special Tree of Songs. So throughout his long and fruitful life, Caleb ``picks'' apples and songs. Ray's original story is told in a spare style, full of appealing detail. She subtly imparts a wealth of information about the Shakers into this gentle tale of one man's conversion and faith. Also woven into the narrative are fascinating facts about their simple, but rich, communal life (280 eggs were needed for breakfast every morning). Winter's acrylic illustrations are as vibrant as the finest folk art. Executed in muted tones that glow on the page, each painting reflects and augments the spirit of the story and of the people she portrays. This beautiful book is a natural to use in history, religion, art, and music classes. Pair it with Raymond Bial's Shaker Home (Houghton, 1994) to give children a fine introduction to these extraordinary people. Seven songs with musical notation are included.-Jeanne Marie Clancy, Upper Merion Township Library, King of Prussia, PA
Carolyn Phelan
When six-year-old Caleb's father dies in the Civil War and his mother must work in the mills, she takes the boy to live with the Shakers. Gradually, Caleb learns Shaker ways of work, worship, and learning. When he grows up, he becomes the deacon of the orchard, responsible for planting, pruning, and harvesting the apple trees and making applesauce and cider. Throughout his life, Caleb hears songs sung by angels, and in the end the angels come for him. The songs and music appearing in the book are Shaker songs, though the story itself is fictional. Colorful paintings in a folk-art style illustrate the book with warmth and simplicity. A pleasant, child-appealing interpretation of Shaker ways.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152769215
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/23/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.31 (w) x 11.82 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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