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SIMPLE GIFTS by Betty Fraser


The Story of the Shakers

illustrated by Betty Fraser & by Jane Yolen

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1976
ISBN: 0670645842
Publisher: Viking

Shakerism has become such a familiar presence on the juvenile scene, that it's hard to imagine what Jane Yolen's slight history could add to the record. Yolen does stress a few points that others have slighted--tracing connections between the origin of Shakerism and the French Camisards, and concentrating on the development of Shaker dance and songs along with the changing atmosphere of the order under successive leaders. Otherwise, she offers less history of the movement and less insight into its mystical worship than either Faber's The Perfect Life (1974) or Campion's Ann the Word (p. 800, J-278) and little of the background found in the handful of books on communal societies. Yet her short, uncluttered text does make the essence of the Shaker experience available to younger or less ambitious readers, and in this case the "gift to be simple" is both an appropriate and a useful contribution.