The Granddaughter Necklace

The Granddaughter Necklace

by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, Bagram Ibatoulline

An uplifting tale of love, kinship, and gifts, passed down through generations.

There are moments in each person's life that we take great care to remember: the pride of a young girl standing up for herself for the first time; the heartbreak of leaving one's country and family for a new beginning; the thrill of getting ready for the piano recital of a


An uplifting tale of love, kinship, and gifts, passed down through generations.

There are moments in each person's life that we take great care to remember: the pride of a young girl standing up for herself for the first time; the heartbreak of leaving one's country and family for a new beginning; the thrill of getting ready for the piano recital of a lifetime.

In Sharon Dennis Wyeth's family these moments were marked with the passing on of the Granddaughter Necklace: not a fancy piece of jewelry, but a precious one, worn smooth by the touch of mothers and grandmothers, each with her own story to tell.

With a historical sweep that reaches back to Ireland and to Africa, and an intimacy that resides in every family's treasured stories, Wyeth tells the tale of one family's journey from the old world to the new, from the past to the present, and from mother to daughter.

Here's a book that we feel will be passed on from generation to generation too, read in laps and in groups, opening conversations about our own necklaces of memory.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wyeth (Something Beautiful) draws from her own family’s history as she traces a line of women back to the arrival in America of an Irish ancestor, telling stories along the way of separation, deprivation, tragedy, and—eventually—ascendancy to a comfortable middle-class life. The titular necklace of crystal beads, passed down from mothers to daughters, becomes the manifestation of female family ties: “This necklace says you’re one of us... and forever loved.” Children are naturally fascinated by their families’ backstories, and Wyeth’s story certainly feeds a sense of connectivity and belonging through the generations. Surprisingly, her narrator never mentions what is clear from Ibatoulline’s (The Third Gift) warmly lit, beautifully detailed acrylic-gouache scenes: this has been an interracial family for generations. Perhaps Wyeth feared this would derail her conceit (she does address it at length in an author’s note) or assumed that children in a “post-racial” society would not find it remarkable. But it certainly gives the necklace an even greater emotional significance as a touchstone for familial solidarity and resilience. Ages 4�8. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Bagram Ibatoulline's CROW CALL

"Remarkable, atmospheric illustrations..." -- School Library Journal, starred review

"Each frame of the story is captured like an old-time movie in Ibatoulline's tender watercolor and acrylic gouache artwork." -- Booklist, starred review

"The details of [Ibatoulline's] renderings gracefully capture a moment in time that was lost." -- Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
A long time ago, a young woman named Frances sailed to America from Ireland with a necklace of crystal beads. The necklace is passed from mother to daughter every generation and with it, the story of the women who preceded the current recipient in the family line. This is a lovely story of family connections, as told by a twentieth-century woman reflecting family history one generation at a time. Readers discover much about love and sacrifice and multiculturalism. The illustrations disclose the mixed race heritage of the women, although that fact is not revealed in the story itself; the ethnic heritage is mentioned in the author's notes at the end of the book. This story could contribute much to a social studies or history unit for the elementary grades. Teachers might wish to read the author's note to the class before the story itself, so readers will not be puzzled by the obviously African-American appearance of the characters after hearing that the first woman mentioned sailed to this country from Ireland. Recommended. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
School Library Journal
K-Gr 1—This quiet, thoughtful book will undoubtedly serve as an opening to a special conversation about family roots. It connects several generations of women through the passing down of a necklace. The narrator relates the moment when she received it from her mother, and then the story moves backward, threading linked accounts of the gifting of the necklace to the woman of each previous generation. Although the profiles are brief, they are rich, incorporating a range of life experiences and, quite wonderfully, the blending of different ethnicities within the family. Ibatoulline's lovely, detailed illustrations have a warm glow, but there are a couple of instances when the faces of the women look odd, as though they were cut and pasted from another piece of artwork. This book may not draw kids' immediate attention, but shared in a family-themed storytime or as a jumping-off point for a discussion about ancestry, it will definitely inspire youngsters to think about their own family trees.—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR
Kirkus Reviews
Drawing on family history, Wyeth exalts intergenerational bonds and the heirloom that symbolizes them. An author's note details the African-American author's discovery of her Irish forebear, Frances Stward, who immigrated to the United States in 1861. Wyeth takes artistic license in having Stward wear the titular "granddaughter necklace" during her Atlantic voyage, saying that this detail was inspired by "crystal beads worn by [her] mother and grandmother." Stward's "glittering necklace" is handed down from one generation to the next, and the story begins with Stward on the deck of a ship in a breathtaking seascape that Ibatoulline renders in warm, sunset colors. It then shifts to the narrator's childhood as she asks her mother to retell the story of the necklace's journey from one woman to the next. This storytelling moves back through time to Stward's own gift of the necklace to her daughter born of her union with a free man of color. The closing scene shows the narrator giving the necklace to her own daughter in the present day. The story's play with temporal space distinguishes the narrative, and Ibatoulline's acryl-gouache paintings present ornate depictions of domestic scenes and stunning landscapes. The latter category of illustrations is the most successful, with some of the domestic scenes falling a bit flat with stiff renderings of human subjects. A lovely family tribute. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
AD690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Sharon Dennis Wyeth has written nearly fifty books for children, including several books in the My America series. She is also a poet, and a member of the Cave Canem Fellowship for African-American Poets. She lives in Upper Montclair, New Jersey.

Bagram Ibatoulline was born in Russia and educated at the Moscow State Academic Art Institute. He has illustrated many books for children, including THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO by Russell Freedman, and CROW CALL by Lois Lowry. Bagram lives in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania.

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