cover image Basket Moon

Basket Moon

Mary Lyn Ray. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-73521-6

Weaving in authentic details as seamlessly as Pa weaves the splints in his baskets, Ray (Mud; Pianna) pays homage not only to a time-honored craft, but to the way traditions link one generation to the next. A boy growing up in the hills above the Hudson Valley longs to accompany his father to town, where each month he takes his baskets to sell: ""He always went when the moon was round, to have it for a lantern if he was late returning."" As the seasons turn, the boy continues to watch and wait, listening to the stories Pa tells, observing the men at their basket weaving. Then after his ninth birthday, ""I began to see Pa studying me the way he checked a basket when it was finished""; at the next full moon the boy is allowed to go to town. The journey opens the world to him, in more ways than one; the boy will never view his life the same way again. Ray's subtle symbolism and poetic language create a story that will linger with readers for many moons. And Cooney's (Ox-Cart Man) scenes are as pristine as the narrative. From countryside to bustling early- 20th-century metropolis, her deft brush picks out a few carefully chosen details to balance the ethereal simplicity of each scene: delicate fern fronds decorate the forest's undergrowth; a boy's red mittens counterpoint the muted grays of a winter scene; the iron filigree on a rooftop in town adds an elegant touch to the skyline. Author and artist unite in a tribute to the natural world humanity, and their abiding interconnectedness. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)