Made by Hand: A Crafts Sampler

Carole Lexa Schaefer, illus. by Becca Stadtlander. Candlewick, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7433-5
In this homage to the handcrafted, Schaefer (the Monkey and Elephant series) uses story vignettes to introduce 14 handmade 19th-century museum pieces from the northern and eastern U.S. Each of the objects, including a hand-painted butter churn and a beaded Ojibwe bag, features in a spread that opens with a poem (“Teck-a-teck, teck./ With a sharp pocketknife,/ seaman’s hands CARVE/ a piece of smooth whale ivory”). A partitioned layout includes a lyrical backstory of the object and at least two gouache folk-style illustrations by Stadtlander (Sleep Tight Farm), rendered in a muted earth-toned palette. Close-ups of the crafting process and scenes of families using the finished product evoke a feeling of vibrant everyday activity. While the author provides nonfiction accounts when facts were available (“Carrying Case” describes how a tin wallet used by African-American Joseph Trammell housed papers attesting to his free status in mid-19th-century Virginia), most of the contextualizing tales are historical fiction. This collection illuminates the country’s handmade past and offers a challenge to today’s tech-tethered readers: “Consider what you might try crafting with your hands in your own time.” An author’s note and photo index of the items conclude the book. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2018
Release date: 10/09/2018
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