This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration

Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by James Ransome. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-23986-1
Woodson’s (Each Kindness) gentle, unpretentious writing and Ransome’s eloquent artwork breathe life into this story of a close-knit African-American family and their pursuit of a better life. The rope of the title is used over and over, tying luggage to the family station wagon when they leave South Carolina, airing diapers outside their new Brooklyn apartment, serving as a jump rope for the narrator’s mother as a girl, then securing boxes as she later goes off to college. Ransome (Light in the Darkness) pays close attention to the details of life in 1970s and ’80s Brooklyn, from the posters on a bedroom wall and silverware drying by the sink to the dubious expressions of the neighborhood preteens as they survey the new girl. The rope that unites the family then passes to a new generation, as the narrator learns how to jump rope, “right here in Brooklyn, just last Friday night.” The chronicle of a homely object in an age of disposables and the sense of place Woodson and Ransome evoke make this an especially strong and vibrant fictive memoir. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 08/29/2013
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