Thursday, November 02, 2006

Basket Moon

The middle school has a book sale going on to raise funds for their library. Sarah and David went over there this morning to help their Aunt Kim with the sale. When I went to get them I asked if they'd seen any good books to buy. We soon gathered a nice little stack with something for almost everyone in our family.

One of the books we bought was Basket Moon by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It tells the story of a young boy whose father weaves baskets and is set in the Catskills of New York several hundred years ago. Last week we drove through that area on our trip to Rheinbeck, and I imagine that the mountains and the foothills still look like they did at the time of this story. I thought of our drive up the Taconic Thruway, and the beauty of the trees as I read this book.

The boy wants very badly to go with his father to Hudson when his father takes the baskets there. He finally gets to go with his father to trade the baskets for provisions one spring. (It took four weeks for his father and the other basket-makers to make enough baskets to sell, and they were taken to town when the moon was full, in case the traveler needed the light of the moon to get home by.) He is amazed by the town - the sights, the smells - but as he and his father are starting back home, several men taunt them for being from the hills. The jibes bother the boy for several weeks, and he decides he no longer wants to be a basket-maker. Then another basket-maker, Big Joe, talks to the boy.

' "Some learn the language of the wind," he said, "and sing it into music. Some hear it and write poems. The wind taught us to weave it into baskets."

An oak leaf blew into the shed. "The wind watches," Big Joe said. "It knows whom to trust."

Right then, I didn't care about the men in Hudson. I wanted to be like Big Joe and Mr. Cooens and Pa. I wanted to be the one the wind chose.'

The boy decides he will make baskets and begins to weave them, content with his choice. At the end of the book is a historical note by the author. Cooney's illustrations are perfect for the story.
This book is going on the shelf of my favorite picture books in my room.

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Anonymous Nina said...

Thanks for this review. I saw it at semicolon. I always think I know all the books by an author or illustrator (in this case Cooney) and then I am reminded that I do not. I plan to check Basket Moon next week at the library. Don't you love book sales.

8:39 PM  

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