Sky Sash So Blue

Elizabeth Hathorn, Author, Libby Hathorn, Author
Elizabeth Hathorn, Author, Libby Hathorn, Author Simon & Schuster $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-81090-9
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Words and artwork play off of one another like musical riffs in this story of one family who transforms fabric scraps into art and whose bonds of love are stronger than the chains of slavery. Readers may well suspect that Hathorn (Grandma's Shoes) conceived her eloquent, rhyming narrative poem in tandem with Andrews, who crafts dramatic tableaulike paintings with accents made of canvas and cut paper. Susannah, a young slave girl, treasures a ""sash of pale blue, made of pieces of sky"" stitched and given to her by her mother. When Susannah's mother runs out of material to complete her sister Sissy's wedding dress, Susannah offers her pale blue prize, but Sissy refuses it. Only later, when Sissy's new husband John, a freed man, returns for his bride does Sissy accept the offering (""This gift of Susannah's will tie us fast,/ No matter how long till we meet again,/ This sash says our love got to last""). In one especially resonant spread, the newly married couple raises their attenuated faces and arms toward the sky in a joyful stylized dance. Hathorn infuses the text with quiet hope. Even as Susannah's mother cuts up the wedding dress to make dusters for the ""Missus,"" Susannah reminds her ""out of nothing you made something""; the next page shows a moment of levity--as the girl polishes with the rag, she remarks, ""Didn't you dance at my sister's wedding?"" Together, Hathorn and Andrews vividly bring home this powerful story's silent refrain: that hope and joy can persist amid enormous sorrow. Ages 5-up. (June)
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