Drawing on family history, Wyeth exalts intergenerational bonds and the heirloom that symbolizes them.
An author’s note details the African-American author’s discovery of her Irish forebear, Frances Stward, who immigrated to the United States in 1861. Wyeth takes artistic license in having Stward wear the titular “granddaughter necklace” during her Atlantic voyage, saying that this detail was inspired by “crystal beads worn by [her] mother and grandmother.” Stward’s “glittering necklace” is handed down from one generation to the next, and the story begins with Stward on the deck of a ship in a breathtaking seascape that Ibatoulline renders in warm, sunset colors. It then shifts to the narrator’s childhood as she asks her mother to retell the story of the necklace’s journey from one woman to the next. This storytelling moves back through time to Stward’s own gift of the necklace to her daughter born of her union with a free man of color. The closing scene shows the narrator giving the necklace to her own daughter in the present day. The story’s play with temporal space distinguishes the narrative, and Ibatoulline’s acryl-gouache paintings present ornate depictions of domestic scenes and stunning landscapes. The latter category of illustrations is the most successful, with some of the domestic scenes falling a bit flat with stiff renderings of human subjects.
A lovely family tribute. (Picture book. 5-8)