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Ellen's Broom



by
Kelly Starling Lyons
illustrated by
Daniel Minter

Edition
-
Publisher
Penguin
Imprint
Putnam’s
ISBN
9780399250033

Awards and Honors
2013 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor; NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2013, History/Life & Culture in the Americas
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
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QTY
Out of stock

JLG Category

Easy Reading Plus

When Ellen’s parents were slaves, they jumped over a broom to start a life together. So Ellen brings the broom to the courthouse when her parents’ marriage finally becomes legal. Author’s note. Full-color linoleum block-print illustrations, which were printed by hand and painted.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

32

Trim Size

8 1/2" x 10 1/2"

Dewey

E

AR

4.5: points 0.5

Lexile

AD610L

Scholastic Reading Counts

2

JLG Release

Feb 2012

Topics

Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877). Slavery. Legal recognition of marriage. Broom weddings. Traditions. Family. Celebrations.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

According to an author’s note, while Lyons was researching family history, she learned of the role played by the Freedmen’s Bureau in authenticating the unregistered marriages of former slaves. This Reconstruction-era story imagines what that experience would be like. After their preacher announces the opportunity to register and be considered legally married, Ellen’s parents and siblings gather around the broom hanging above their hearth. Papa explains the custom of “jumping the broom”—the ritual enacted by slaves to signify marital commitment: “we put this here broom on the ground, held hands and leaped into life together.” The family then walks to the courthouse where Mama and Papa are married, with Mama holding the broom, which is later hung above the fireplace. Minter’s striking hand-painted linoleum block prints create a range of physical and emotional settings as the parents reflect on their past and celebrate the significance of being “legal.” Warm brown faces reflect the brilliant golden rays filling the church in a colorful opening imbued with joyous reverence. A muted palette with softer borders is employed for flashbacks, such as that of a husband and wife being cruelly separated by a master. The pink of the protagonist’s dress connects to the flowers she and her sister gather to decorate the broom, as it becomes a link between their heritage and futures. Lyons’s homespun and heartfelt dialogue combines with Minter’s exquisite use of line, color, and composition to produce a story that radiates deep faith and strong family bonds.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

According to an author’s note, while Lyons was researching family history, she learned of the role played by the Freedmen’s Bureau in authenticating the unregistered marriages of former slaves. This Reconstruction-era story imagines what that experience would be like. After their preacher announces the opportunity to register and be considered legally married, Ellen’s parents and siblings gather around the broom hanging above their hearth. Papa explains the custom of “jumping the broom”—the ritual enacted by slaves to signify marital commitment: “we put this here broom on the ground, held hands and leaped into life together.” The family then walks to the courthouse where Mama and Papa are married, with Mama holding the broom, which is later hung above the fireplace. Minter’s striking hand-painted linoleum block prints create a range of physical and emotional settings as the parents reflect on their past and celebrate the significance of being “legal.” Warm brown faces reflect the brilliant golden rays filling the church in a colorful opening imbued with joyous reverence. A muted palette with softer borders is employed for flashbacks, such as that of a husband and wife being cruelly separated by a master. The pink of the protagonist’s dress connects to the flowers she and her sister gather to decorate the broom, as it becomes a link between their heritage and futures. Lyons’s homespun and heartfelt dialogue combines with Minter’s exquisite use of line, color, and composition to produce a story that radiates deep faith and strong family bonds.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

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