SHAKER LANE by Alice & Martin Provensen Provensen
Kirkus Star


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From a prolific, long-honored, Caldecott-winning team, a fictionalized piece of social history. The old Herkimer sisters live somewhere in rural New York, in the family mansion. To survive, they sell bits of land to people who form a community on Shaker Lane, where they collect junk, live in extended families, help each other out, and scrape along contentedly--even though their more prosperous neighbors consider them an eyesore and a public nuisance. When the land is condemned to build a ""reservoir,"" there is no opposition; the people move on, bulldozers come, a dam is built, and new homes appear on the residual land. Technologically, this is vague: the mysterious factory (not, apparently, a water purification plant) that appears next to the dam will be partly immersed if the water rises to creep ""over the last chimney,"" as the text suggests; and the book raises other questions, like the purpose of the dam, that it does not answer. But, like Rylant and Gammell's The Relatives Came, Shaker Lane celebrates the dignity of folk at the bottom of the social ladder, its illustrations discovering the beauty in civilization's discards, human and otherwise. In the soft earth tones of a late northern fall, the Provensens lovingly depict Shaker Lane's patchwork of architecture, people, and patterns--a sharp contrast to the boring, aseptic development that succeeds it--making this a compelling statement about the ironies of ""progress.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Viking