cover image Shaker Hearts

Shaker Hearts

Ann Warren Turner. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-025369-1

As exquisite and simple as a well-browned loaf of bread, this elegantly designed picture book celebrates the ordered existence of a Shaker village. Each stanza offers a small glimpse of the Shaker way of life-""Morning is a golden face,/ hands to work, hearts to God,/ sisters shake the linens out,/ white as morning snow""-while the author's introduction and illustrated endnotes provide intriguing historical detail (e.g., Shakers believed so strongly in equality that they bought the freedom of some slaves so they could join Shaker communities on equal footing). Turner's (Sewing Quilts; Apple Valley Year) series of spare, four-line stanzas are pinned together with a series of end rhymes that only occasionally strain for effect, and with the repetition of Mother Ann Lee's Shaker motto, ""hands to work, hearts to God."" Perfectly joined to the verse, Minor's (Heartland; Mojave) otherwise static paintings are suffused with sunlight and crisp detail, lending warmth and familiarity to the clean lines of the facing white pages. Shaker food, herbs and tools are featured in the design ornamentations, while the paintings' well-swept wooden floors and snow-topped barns reinforce the tone of peace and order. The joy of the Shaker utopian community depicted, so ""far from world of woe,"" offers a sharp contrast to the complexities of modern life, making both art and text seem a rare gift. All ages. (Jan.)