Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Vine Basket

The Vine Basket

Spring 2013 Fiction
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Josanne La Valley
ISBN: 978-0-547-84801-3
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Growing up among the Uyghur, Mehrigul has not been able to attend school for even one day this year, because she must help on the family farm. Not only does she long for an education, she also knows that if she cannot attend school, she is in danger of being put on a list of girls compiled by the local Communist party's chief to be sent away to slave in the factories in the south of China. Her older brother, Memet, has already been forced to flee because of his separatist political views and hatred of the Chinese who have conquered East Turkestan. After Memet leaves, Mehrigul's work load increases and she is forced to deal with an embittered, frequently drunk father and a seriously depressed mother. The bright spot in her life is her ancient grandfather who weaves willow baskets to be sold at the market. He taught Mehrigul this skill.

One happy summer day spent with Memet before he fled, Mehrigul wove a cone-shaped, grapevine basket which was lovely but so impractical that she and her brother just hung it from the crossbar of their farm cart. Great was her surprise when a foreign woman not only buys her basket for one hundred yuan but tells her that she will return in three weeks and will buy all of the baskets that Mehrigul can make.

Set within this three week period, The Vine Basket follows the appealing heroine as she struggles mightily against a cruel father and heart-breaking obstacles. While this pitch-perfect page-turner ends hopefully, the protagonist is literally overwhelmed by her harsh environment. Told in an authentic, culturally empathetic voice, Mehrigul's misfortunes represent the struggles of a conquered people, little-known in the western world, who are gradually losing everything.

Kemie Nix   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

Look for this product at:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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