The Granddaughter Necklace

Sharon Dennis Wyeth, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-08125-2
Wyeth (Something Beautiful) draws from her own family’s history as she traces a line of women back to the arrival in America of an Irish ancestor, telling stories along the way of separation, deprivation, tragedy, and—eventually—ascendancy to a comfortable middle-class life. The titular necklace of crystal beads, passed down from mothers to daughters, becomes the manifestation of female family ties: “This necklace says you’re one of us... and forever loved.” Children are naturally fascinated by their families’ backstories, and Wyeth’s story certainly feeds a sense of connectivity and belonging through the generations. Surprisingly, her narrator never mentions what is clear from Ibatoulline’s (The Third Gift) warmly lit, beautifully detailed acrylic-gouache scenes: this has been an interracial family for generations. Perhaps Wyeth feared this would derail her conceit (she does address it at length in an author’s note) or assumed that children in a “post-racial” society would not find it remarkable. But it certainly gives the necklace an even greater emotional significance as a touchstone for familial solidarity and resilience. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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