This is that quiet kind of book that packs a wallop. Although the Shakers as a religious group have almost died out, their spirit lives on. Their time-saving devices, their medicinal gardens, their quality food, and their elegant but simple furniture all had a profound effect on this country. Simply written and easy-to-read, this is a gem of a book.
School Library Journal
Bolick and Randolph have built their narrative around the many ingenious inventions for which the Shakers are given credit. Readers will come to understand both Shaker history and their way of life as various aspects of their inventions are discussed. The authors' spare narrative conveys the information directly, but in a rather dry manner. Francisco's sketches of the machinery are clear and informative, but those of people are awkwardly drawn; pictures are not always found on the pages on which they are discussed. Although it gives less detail on the inventions, Jane Yolen's Simple Gifts (Viking, 1976; o.p.) provides a full account of the history and life of the Shakers in much more vivid and readable prose. --Sylvia S. Marantz, Wellington School, Columbus, OH