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ELLEN'S BROOM by Kelly Starling Lyons


by Kelly Starling Lyons illustrated by Daniel Minter

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-25003-3
Publisher: Putnam

Ellen cheerfully watches as her parents, former slaves, legally register their wedding at a Freedman’s Bureau during Reconstruction.

There’s happiness in the air for Ellen, her family and all their neighbors as they attend church services celebrating the end of slavery and the beginning of freedom. The announcement from the pulpit that slave marriages can now be recognized brings more joy to Ellen’s parents, who share stories with their children of the forced separation of families and the importance of the broom that was used in their own wedding, a broom with a place of honor over the fireplace. It is Ellen’s idea to weave flowers through that broom for the new ceremony. The broom will stay with the family now as a symbol of the past and as a part of family tradition. Stories for young children set during Reconstruction are not common, and Lyons has called upon her own family stories and marriage to shine a spotlight on the period. Minter uses hand-painted linoleum block prints for a bright, sunny and upbeat accompaniment. Scenes of slave times are colored in sepia to set them apart.

A spirited story filled with the warmth of a close family celebrating a marriage before God and the law.

(author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)