Synopses & Reviews
A young girl learns a new meaning for freedom during the time of Reconstruction
Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her mother and father to officially be married, the broom was what made them a family anyway. But now all former slaves who had already been married in their hearts could register as lawful husband and wife.
When Ellen and her family make the long trip to the courthouse dressed in their best, she brings the broom her parents had jumped so many years before. Even though freedom has come, Ellen knows the old traditions are important too. After Mama and Papa's names are recorded in the register, Ellen nearly bursts with pride as her parents jump the broom once again.
Ellen is a wonderfully endearing character whose love for her family is brought to life in Daniel Minter's rich and eye-catching block print illustrations.
"Lyons's (One Million Men and Me) modest story, set during Reconstruction, illuminates a historical milestone as well as the African-American slavery-era wedding ritual of broom jumping. After slavery ends, Ellen and her family rejoice with other members of their church when the deacon announces that the law will now recognize the marriages of former slaves. This includes Ellen's parents, who tell their children about the tradition of 'broom weddings,' in which slave couples (whose unions were not always honored by their masters) 'held hands and leaped into life together' while jumping over a broom. Ellen carries the broom her parents used as they join other couples walking to the courthouse to officially register their marriages; she then decorates the broom with flowers to create a bouquet for her mother. The narrative has a loving, homespun tone, though the story's emotions feel subdued. Minter's (The First Marathon) vibrant linoleum block prints which use springtime colors for the present day and sepia tones for flashbacks to the time of slavery give the book more of an emotional charge. Ages 5 8. Agent: Dwyer & O'Grady." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Kelly Starling Lyons (www.kellystarlinglyons.com) lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Daniel Minter (www.danielminter.com) lives in Portland, Maine.