Monday, January 5, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 261

Picture Book: Sky Sash So Blue

Author: Libby Hathorn

Illustrator: Benny Andrews

Summary: The sky blue sash of the title is a piece of silky fabric that Susannah, a young slave girl, keeps hidden. It was a gift from Ma’am, gleaned from the items tossed away at the Big House. Susannah plays with the sash while anticipating wearing it at her sister Sissy’s wedding and the freedom the new groom hopes to purchase for all three family members: first the bride to be, then Ma’am and Susannah. Meanwhile, Ma’am is frantically collecting bits of fabric to piece together for Sissy’s wedding dress. A white sheet is scorched, and Ma’am is thrilled when Missus orders her to cut it up for rags. The cuts Ma’am makes are carefully planned to finish the wedding dress. Because the Missus sees no point in allowing a preacher for the wedding, Ma’am must officiate. When Sissy is leaving with her groom, Susannah offers her the blue sash. Sissy refuses, but Ma’am insists so that it can serve as a reminder of Ma’am and Susannah and their promised freedom. Later, the Missus asks about the rags from the scorched sheet. In tears Ma’am disassembles the wedding dress and returns the pieces to the Big House. Ironically, the various pieces when used at the Big House serve as a rebellious remembrance of the wedding and their freedom to come. The story ends with Ma'am telling Susannah of the “overall” dress she will make her one day and a new dress she must make for Sissy, a waiting dress for there will be a baby born free!

Hanna’s Comments: The transformation of fabric scraps into art is the overall metaphor of this book and the beauty of the illustrations. Although it is a complicated story in verse, it is worth the effort. Share it with listeners who have the maturity to understand the symbolism and the transformative power of symbolic objects such as scraps of fabric used to make a wedding dress. Use this book to talk about faith, hope, and transformation, even in the most difficult times. 

Publisher & Date of Publication: Simon & Schuster, 1998

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 7 and up, 2nd and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abuse/abuse of power, acceptance, adaptation/assimilation, America, art, aspirations/dreams, beauty, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, caring/tending, challenges, clothes/shoes, collections, commitment, conformity, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, cruelty, difficulties, family, gifts/talents, hope, labor/work, marriage, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, mothers, parents/parental love, patience, poverty, preparation, race relations/racism, secrets, slavery/slaves, transformation, treasure, waiting

Scripture Connections: The marriages of Jacob (Genesis 29); Dorcas/Tabitha’s good works (Acts 9:36)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a circle of women in your faith community. Then talk about the symbolic and transformative power of objects.

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