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Shaker Hearts

Shaker Hearts

by Ann Warren Turner, Wendell Minor (Photographer), Ann Turner

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Ann Turner's poetic text gives us a glimpse into the life of the Shakers, one of the most successful utopian communities in American history. The Shakers dedicated themselves to serving God, and lived a simple life in harmony with the earth and the rhythm of its changing seasons.

Wendell Minor's beautifully composed paintings and book design perfectly


Ann Turner's poetic text gives us a glimpse into the life of the Shakers, one of the most successful utopian communities in American history. The Shakers dedicated themselves to serving God, and lived a simple life in harmony with the earth and the rhythm of its changing seasons.

Wendell Minor's beautifully composed paintings and book design perfectly capture both the serenity and quiet joy of the Shaker way of life.

Author Biography:

Ann Turner is the author of many novels, picture books, and poetry collections for young children. Her novel A Hunter Comes Home was an ALA Notable Children's Book of 1980, and her first picture book, Dakota Dugout, received the same honor in 1985. Among her other books are Rosemary's Witch, a School Library Journal Best Book of 1991 and Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies, a Reading Rainbow selection. Ms. Turner lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, with her husband Richard, and their two children, Benjamin and Charlotte.

In Her Own Words ...

I was one of those children who sniffed, slept on, and sometimes ate books. Once a week my father would go to the library and bring back seven books, one for each day of the week. I would open my mouth like a baby bird to devour food. I really think I would have died, had I not had books.

I wrote my first story when I was eight, about a dragon and a dwarf named Puckity. I still have it and use it when talking to children. The story shows that children have tales to tell, and ones worth telling. I was encouraged in my writing through school and college, but was afraid I could not do it. I trained as a teacher and taught forone year, but quickly decided that I would rather write books than teach them. I tried my hand at poetry for two years and had one poem published.

It wasn't until my mother, an artist, suggested that we do a book together about vultures that I tried writing for children. So my first book was about natural history, and I loved learning about vultures and watching them in Florida.

The queerest thing about writing is how a story chooses you, instead of you choosing it. I often feel as if I am walking along quietly, minding my own business, when a story creeps up behind me and taps me on the shoulder. "Tell me, show me, write me!" it whispers in my ear. And if I don't tell that story, it wakes me up in the morning, shakes me out of my favorite afternoon nap, and insists upon being told.

Writers write for the same reason readers read - to find out the end of the story. I never know the endings of my stories when I start out; I must wrestle my way through them, punching out unnecessary words, arguing with self-important paragraphs, until I arrive at the end thirsty, tired, but victorious. This tells you, of course, that writing is not easy for me. Once in a blue moon it is, but most of the time it is hard, hard work. And I work every day. I sit down at my computer and write. It could be about anything, or anyone - my husband, Rick, my children Ben and Charlotte, or the woods that surround our house in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

Remember that you have stories to tell, too. Remember that you have a voice that is worth being heard. Write your stories down, keep journals. Learn to be a spy. I am a nosy, curious spy who eavesdrops on people at the beach, or as they stroll along at the mall. I always wonder; "Why is she walking so fast? Is she mad? How come his mouth looks like that? What is that lady saying to her child?" If you keep your eyes and ears open, you will see that you are surrounded by drama and astonishing things, even in the midst of everyday life. Notice it; write it down, and who knows, maybe someday you will be a writer, too.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
A perfect blending of theme, text and illustration, this visually appealing book could be read aloud as a bedtime poem to a toddler. The older child, reading the author's notes along with the main text, will gain some understanding of the Shaker community. The notes also serve to allow use of the book as a starting point when doing research on the Shaker way or life. The simple paintings by Wendell Minor are impressive in their own right yet precisely complement the spare text of Ann Turner. They are fitting illustrations of a Shaker village where simplicity was a lifestyle and beauty was evident in the ordinary accoutrements of existence.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3The Shaker motto "hands to work, hearts to God" provides the thematic thread and rhythmic pulse in this poetic treatment of a nearly extinct sect. Turner's clean verse incorporates important practices and beliefs into four-line stanzas. The rhyme scheme invites the toes to tap and creates a subtle appreciation for the movement that triggered the group's name, as well as for the concluding scene in which women in swaying skirts and men with knees raised offer outstretched hands to one another in a joyful dance. Printed on a white background, the text is framed by a "window" that includes a homespun image in the lunettean apple pie, a sprig of herbs, a wheelbarrow. Facing pages contain full-color scenes, depicting daily life and work, that glow with a soft, but brilliant light. Windows are a clever leitmotif throughout, highlighting their importance to the Shakers and creating the sense that readers are peering into a distant time. Minor's buildings are solid, his landscapes sweeping, his people almost sculptural. An introductory note provides a brief background; details alluded to in the text (dancing, gender equality) are described in back matter. Children would enjoy comparing Minor's acrylics to Raymond Bial's photographs in Shaker Home (Houghton, 1994). Jane Yolen's Simple Gifts (Viking, 1976; o.p.) offers more in-depth information. Find a use for this masterfully made celebration of a group that has quietly made significant contributions to society. Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
Kirkus Reviews
The Shaker motto "Hands to work, hearts to God" is depicted in twelve four-line verses and seventeen acrylic paintings as elegant and serene as the buildings and artifacts they show, from Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts. Readers see "brothers and sisters" at work in field and barn, kitchen, garden, and workshop, and dancing in their worship. An introductory note gives a brief history of the Shakers, and endnotes tell a bit more about their activities. Turner (Elfsong, 1995, etc.) and Minor have created a beautifully designed addition to the sparse literature for young people about this remarkable sect, and a very different look at the Shakers from that provided by Raymond Bial's photo-essay, Shaker Home (1994), or Mary Lyn Ray's Shaker Boy (1994), which focuses on this group's music and mysticism.

Product Details

Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.80(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 6 Years

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