cover image The Village Basket Weaver

The Village Basket Weaver

Jonathan London. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45314-7

This tale celebrates a Carib boy's urgent decision to resist modern ways and follow his grandfather in preserving a traditional craft. Only Carpio, Tavio's grandfather, knows how to weave the basket required in making cassava bread, a specialty of the Carib people. Alarmed by the increasing signs of Carpio's aging, Tavio begins to pay particular attention to the old man and to his basket weaving. When Carpio is too frail to finish the new cassava basket promised to the village women, Tavio knows what he must do. Unfortunately, London drapes this modest story in layers of similes that nearly smother a child's perspective. However, this indulgence is not enough to spoil the story's sentiment. Crespo's (How the Sea Began: A Taino Myth) well-researched paintings present authentic Carib life and environments with an easy playfulness. While the message packs enough punch for an elementary school unit on cultural survival, this tale goes beyond making a teacherly point to portray and honor the individual's bond with family and community--and the powerful traditions that strengthen that unity. Ages 4-8. (June)