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The Vine Basket
ISBN: 9780544439399
Author: La Valley, Josanne
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published: August 2015
Retail: $7.99    OUR PRICE: $1.99
     You Save 76%
Binding Type: Paperback
Annotation: Life has been hard for Mehrigul, a member of the Uyghur tribe scorned by the Chinese communists, so when an American offers to buy all the baskets she can make in three weeks, Mehrigul strives for a better future for herself and her family.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Self-esteem & Self-reliance
- Juvenile Fiction | Girls & Women
- Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Asia
Library of Congress Subjects:
Basket making; Fiction.
Fathers and daughters; Fiction.
Farm life; China; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: bl2015027435
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Target Grade: 4-6
Grade level: 4-6
Physical Information: 7.60" H x 5.10" L x 0.60" W
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall)
Mehrigul is left with heavy responsibilities on the farm after her brother flees to avoid persecution by the Chinese government; without school, Mehrigul is terrified that she'll be forced into factory work. Then a glimpse of hope: an American woman offers to buy her baskets. Rich descriptions of Uyghur tribal life are woven into a narrative as unique as Mehrigul's baskets.
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2013 March #2)

In this debut novel, La Valley introduces Mehrigul, a 14-year-old Uyghur girl growing up in western China, who struggles with poverty, an alcoholic father and depressed mother, and government policies that could force her to be shipped off to work in a factory. Mehrigul's grandfather has shown her how to create cornucopia-style baskets from grapevines, a departure from the traditional handicrafts of her region, and one of them catches the attention of an American buyer, who pays extraordinarily well and orders more baskets on a tight (and probably impossible) deadline. The use of the grapevines as a metaphor for Uyghur resilience is a bit heavy-handed, but the blossoming of Mehrigul's artistic abilities and confidence are inspiring. Her loneliness and hopelessness in the face of many obstacles are also resonant, as is her longing to return to school, despite the pressure and need to help her family financially. For many readers, this book may be their first introduction to the Uyghur people, and La Valley strongly evokes the culture and struggles of an ethnic group whose future is less than certain. Ages 9–12. Agent: Marietta Zacker, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Apr.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2013 May)

Gr 5–9—Present-day East Turkestan is the setting for this compelling novel of a Uyghur girl's struggle to hold on to hope in the midst of poverty and oppression. Mehrigul, 14, has been forced by her embittered father to leave school and work on their farm, filling the role of her older brother, who has left the family to seek a better life. She must assume the responsibilities of her depressed and powerless mother; show respect for her father, who drinks and gambles away their meager earnings; and face the growing threat that she will be sent to work in a factory in southern China. On market day, an American woman offers a large sum of money to purchase a grapevine basket Mehrigul has made and asks her to make more, and the teen recognizes that her life could change. With the help and emotional support of her beloved grandfather and the drive to assure that her younger sister stays in school, Mehrigul begins making the baskets, slowly discovering her own talent and creativity, only to be thwarted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The vivid and authentic sense of place, custom, and politics serves as an effective vehicle for the skillfully characterized, emotionally charged story. Mehrigul's dawning awareness of what it means to be an artist as well as her anger, frustration, and fear are palpable, conveying a true sense of the iron will underlying her submissiveness. The realistic and satisfying resolution will resonate with readers, even as they learn the fascinating details of an unfamiliar culture. An endnote and afterword provide valuable historical background. An absorbing read and an excellent choice for expanding global understanding.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

[Page 115]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.