Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis

Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis

by Jeannine Atkins


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From critically acclaimed author Jeannine Atkins comes a gorgeous, haunting biographical novel in verse about a half Native American, half African American sculptor working in the years following the Civil War.

A sculptor of historical figures starts with givens but creates her own vision. Edmonia Lewis was just such a sculptor, but she never spoke or wrote much about her past, and the stories that have come down through time are often vague or contradictory. Some facts are known: Edmonia was the daughter of an Ojibwe woman and an African-Haitian man. She had the rare opportunity to study art at Oberlin, one of the first schools to admit women and people of color, but lost her place after being accused of poisoning and theft, despite being acquitted of both. She moved to Boston and eventually Italy, where she became a successful sculptor.

But the historical record is very thin. The open questions about Edmonia’s life seem ideally suited to verse, a form that is comfortable with mysteries. Inspired by both the facts and the gaps in history, author Jeannine Atkins imagines her way into a vision of what might have been.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481459051
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 01/10/2017
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 1,128,997
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jeannine Atkins is the author of several books for young readers about courageous women, including Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science, Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math, Stone Mirrors, and Borrowed Names. Jeannine teaches writing for children and young adults at Simmons University. She lives in western Massachusetts. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt

Stone Mirrors
Old branches crack as Edmonia breaks

a path through the woods. She wants

to outrun fury, or at least make a distance

between herself and the poison spoken

at Oberlin. The school is a shop where she can’t buy,

a supper she’s never meant to taste,

a holiday she can’t celebrate

though she doesn’t want to be left out.

She runs under trees taller than those in town,

where they’re sawed into lumber,

turned into tables, rifles, or walls.

These woods are as close to home

as she may ever again get.

When she was given a chance to go

to boarding school, her aunts’ farewell was final.

People who move into houses

with hard walls don’t return to homes

that can be rolled and carried on backs.

Edmonia crouches to touch tracks

of birds and swift squirrels sculpted in snow,

the split hearts of deer hooves.

Boot prints are set far enough apart

to tell her the trespasser is tall,

shallow enough to guess he’s slender.

Her cold breath stops, like ice.

She looks up at a deer whose dark gaze

binds them, turns into trust.

Then a branch breaks. The deer flees.

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