The Promise Basket

Bill Richardson, illus. by Slavka Kolesar. Groundwood, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77306-089-7
In a “smaller than small” room, a woman lives with her baby. Although they are poor, the woman is “determined that gifts would be given when gifts needed giving,” and on her daughter’s first birthday, she compiles a package of found objects: a beautiful beach stone, “a dangle of ribbon,” and a note pledging boundless love, all tucked into a reclaimed basket. With each year, the Promise Basket fills with stones and notes until the daughter leaves home and has a girl of her own. Grandmother’s first gift? The Promise Basket, with a new pink stone and blank paper ready for the next generation’s messages. Set “when the world was just a little... sweeter than it is today,” this story by Richardson (The Bunny Band) begins on a note of idealized sentimentality. But with rhythm and repetition, the narrative mixes messages of unending maternal devotion with subtle allusions to life’s challenges. Kolesar (debuting as an illustrator for an English-language title) beautifully echoes the story’s shifting tones, balancing floral folk art motifs with potent symbolism. Whether brought to a baby shower or given to a graduate, this story of steadfast parent-child bonds may become a perennial gift favorite. Ages 6–9. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/20/2019
Release date: 08/01/2019
Genre: Children's
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