Friday, December 5, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 230

Picture Book: Circle Unbroken

Author: Margot Theis Raven

Illustrator: E. B. Lewis

Summary: As her grandma demonstrates making a sweetgrass basket, a granddaughter hears the generational tale of their family’s basket-making tradition. It begins by a river in Africa where baskets were made from the grassy reeds to winnow their rice. There a boy learns the skills, and he experiences the ritual necessary for adulthood before being captured and sold as a slave in America. Then a parallel story is told about a slave girl taught what she needs to know by the older female slaves, including winnowing rice in a sweetgrass basket. Soon the two ancestors meet and marry on an island plantation, and a new family begins. Babies are born, wars are won, a bridge is built, and economic opportunities change. Wooden stands for selling baskets are built and tourists come. To end the grandmother says, “And the time has come my child for you to learn the knot that ties us all together – the circle unbroken.”

Hanna’s Comments: Now and then I read a book that is great, but the timing is not quite right. That’s the case for this one. Last Saturday (Day 224), I featured a wonderful book about a particular basket making tradition: Basket Moon by Mary Lyn Ray, beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney. Check out that post [here]. Just 3 days later, I read this excellent picture book about a particular basket making tradition. So why would a faith community want to study basket-making traditions? Because baskets are functional, traditional artifacts of most cultures, and beautifully symbolic of God’s bounty, the circle of life, &/or our openness to God's gifts. Baskets hold that which we carry distances or treasure in our homes. They are also artfully made. Artistry is one of our greatest gifts from God. Lastly, they carry the stuff of life. I have a treasured egg basket that belonged to my husband’s great-grandfather. Think of the baskets that have held new born babies, as in this story, communion bread, a boy’s loaves and fishes, and generous worship offerings.    

Publisher & Date of Publication: Melanie Kroupa Books, 2004

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 48

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, adaptation/assimilation, affection, Africa, America, ancestors/patriarchs & matriarchs, art, babies/children, beauty, belonging, bonds/connections, challenges, change, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, culture, difficulties, family, gifts/talents, heritage, image of God, labor/work, listening, manna, marriage, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, mentors/teachers, openness, parables/stories, participation, perseverance, possessions, pride, slavery/slaves, time/timing/over time, treasure, unity

Scripture Connections: God has filled them with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs (Exodus 35:31-32); tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord (Psalm 78:4); behold, children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3); where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21) Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book in an adult small group program emphasizing how artifacts or artistic skills in families, all results of God’s gift of creativity & ingenuity, are treasured containers of stories and God’s blessings. 

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