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KUNU'S BASKET by Lee DeCora Francis


by Lee DeCora Francis & illustrated by Susan Drucker

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-88448-330-4
Publisher: Tilbury House

The men of Indian Island, Maine, make baskets—but young Kunu wants to do it right now by himself.

Kunu finds that basket-weaving is not so easy as it looks, but he rejects his father’s offers of help. His grandfather, Muhmum, who lives next door, finds ways of gently walking Kunu through the steps, one at a time. Muhmum reminds Kunu that his own first basket took seven tries, as Kunu becomes increasingly frustrated. But slowly he learns how to pound the ash into strips, weave the bottom around a block of wood, work the strips and finish the rim. Muhmum puts cloth straps from his own basket on Kunu’s first effort so he can carry his first pack basket himself. The softly colored and soft-edged pictures display many things about Kunu’s home and family: maps of Maine on the wall, a couple of cats, his mother, father and younger brother, his grandfather’s wall of tools. In each corner of many of the double-page spreads are smaller insert images of types of woven baskets. On the left-hand page, there’s a basket in a stand of fiddlehead ferns, on a clam flat or in a strawberry patch; on the facing page, the basket is full to the brim, often with a local creature like a sandpiper or a fox gazing appreciatively at the bounty. A few Penobscot words are used in the text, and their meanings are fairly clear in context.

Gentle and only slightly didactic, it makes not only an attractive intergenerational story but shows how much work and patience go into one of those beautiful baskets, a number of which are illustrated on the last page. (Picture book. 5-8)