Jumping the Broom

Courtni C. Wright, Author, Gershom Griffith, Illustrator Holiday House $15.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1042-2
In what appears to be an effort to help children, particularly African Americans, assimilate the bitter American legacy of black slavery without damaging their self-esteem, Wright conjures up an almost preternaturally jolly picture of a slave wedding. Lettie's big sister is getting married, and Lettie bubbles with excitement. She describes the preparations, with the women using their limited spare time to make an elaborate quilt, pillows, sheets and a mattress for the new couple (feathers are reserved for the Master and his family's bedding, but ``Tillie's pallet smells really sweet even if it is only stuffed with straw''), while the men carve furniture and cooking utensils. The wedding day is filled with laughter, singing, dancing and plenty of eating, and, of course, the couple jumps over a broom--which, in the absence of a minister or other official, constitutes the marriage ceremony. First-time children's illustrator Griffith mirrors the text's sunniness in luminescent watercolors that emphasize the light streaking through autumn foliage. A hushed serenity imbues the artwork, but can't quell the incongruities created by Wright's failure to establish the historical context. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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