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The Braidby Helen Frost
Synopses & Reviews
Two sisters, Jeannie and Sarah, tell their separate yet tightly interwoven stories in alternating narrative poems. Each sister - Jeannie, who leaves Scotland during the Highland Clearances with her father, mother, and the younger children, and Sarah, who hides so she can stay behind with her grandmother - carries a length of the others hair braided with her own. The braid binds them together when they are worlds apart and reminds them of who they used to be before they were evicted from the Western Isles, where their family had lived for many generations.
The award-winning poet Helen Frost eloquently twists strand over strand of language, braiding the words at the edges of the poems to bring new poetic forms to life while intertwining the destinies of two young girls and the people who cross their paths in this unforgettable novel. An authors note describes the inventive poetic form in detail.
The Braid is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
"Frost's (Spinning Through the Universe) ingeniously structured novel in verse about a Scottish family may be set in 1850, but its themes will resonant with today's teens. The events unfold through the alternating perspectives of sisters Sarah, the oldest of four, whose strength and agility with tools help her father ('just like a lad,' says he), and Jeannie, the comely one with golden curls. Readers quickly learn that the British landlords are forcing out the residents of Scotland's Western Isle of Barra. The night before the family's planned departure for Canada, Sarah braids together her hair with Jeannie's, takes one half of the braid for herself and leaves the other for her sister. While 14-year-old Jeannie departs with her parents and two younger siblings by boat, 15-year-old Sarah hides out in order to stay with their grandmother and return with the woman to Mingulay, the small island south of Barra where their grandfather is buried. The braid not only symbolizes the bond between the sisters ('You'll always long for Jeannie, Aunt Mari says [to Sarah]. No matter how far/ away she is, you may know when something hard is happening to her'), but also nods to Frost's form here, the Celtic knot, which she employs seamlessly. This brief, memorable book spans two years, several deaths, first love and the stigma attached to unwed mothers, while also conveying the resolve of one family to survive and to preserve hope. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this unforgettable novel, award-winning poet Helen Frost eloquently twists strand over strand of language, braiding the words at the edges of the poems to bring new poetic forms to life while intertwining the destinies of two young girls and the people who cross their paths.
About the Author
HELEN FROST is the author of Keesha's House, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and Spinning Through the Universe, as well as a book of poetry for adults and many nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
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Children's » Historical Fiction » General