Circle Unbroken

written by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

A child learns about her African-American heritage from her grandmother as they make a sweetgrass Gullah basket.

A grandmother guides her granddaughter's hands as she teaches the unique art of making sweet grass Gullah baskets. When the child asks her how she learned to make baskets, the woman's story goes back to a time when the child's "old-timey grandfather," is being initiated into manhood in a village in Africa. Part of the rite involves being able to make a grass basket coiled so tightly that it can hold water. Soon after, the young man is captured, transported to America, and sold as a slave at an auction in Charleston, SC. During the day he works the fields, but by night he makes baskets, and passes this skill down from one generation to the next. The bold, double-page watercolor images are poignant and perfectly matched to the text and mood.

A section at the end of the book offers information about the "coil" or "Gullah" baskets, as they are known today, as well as the regions of Africa where this art form originated.