Monday, February 17, 2014
The Vine Basket
by Josanne La Valley
256 pages; ages 9 - 12
Clarion Books, 2013
Mehrigul lives in a village in northwest China. She is one of the Uyghur people, working on her family farm and selling produce at the local market. As much as Mehrigul loves her family and her home, she feels trapped. She wants to go to school, but can't because her brother - who would be working the farm - is hiding from the authorities. She wants to weave baskets with her grandfather, but has to hide them from her father who values practicality over art. And her biggest worry is that she will be sent to work in the factories in southern China.
Then one day at the market a foreigner buys one of Mehrigul's baskets. And the foreign lady asks Mehrigul to weave more. She'll return in three weeks. What an opportunity! If Mehrigul can make more baskets and sell them, then her family will have more opportunities. But one obstacle after another blocks her from weaving all the baskets she wants to. Still, Mehrigul finds a way to embrace the artist within and shape her destiny.
This story was born from an experience Josanne La Valley had while traveling in northwest China. She was visiting local artists and, at one home, a young girl offered her a peach from the family orchard while La Valley watched the grandfather weave willow baskets. When La Valley learned that Uyghur girls were being forced to leave their homes to work in factories, she knew she had to tell a story. La Valley includes notes and a map in the back of the book for readers who want to know more about Uyghur culture.
Check out what other bloggers are reviewing for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Review copy provided by publisher.