What gifts do our mothers pass down to us? With The Granddaughter Necklace, prolific author Sharon Dennis Wyeth has created a masterful tribute to the legacy of a loving family.
The cover image of a peony-bedecked matriarch holding up a glittering necklace of crystal beads to a pigtailed girl sets the tone for this gracious, bighearted picture book. As we discover why that necklace is so precious, we also learn about each mother and the special context in which the gift was shared.
Drawing from her own family history, the author traces the whereabouts of a fictional necklace and presents a brief, enlightening vignette featuring each of seven generations. The effect of this moving story is heightened by the beautifully rendered paintings done in acrylic-gouache by Bagram Ibatoulline. The reader is never overwhelmed with details, as both illustrations and typography give one time enough to pause and appreciate each descendent and her era. An intelligent design choice, for instance, occurs as each mother bequeaths the necklace; at the bottom of the page that woman’s name is revealed with a large, elegant script that resembles handwriting.
The author brings the story full circle, as she herself awards the necklace to her own young daughter following her big piano recital.
In Wyeth’s interesting afterward, she points out how her family has, to her surprise, been traced to an Irish woman named Frances, who settled down with Theodore Harper, a free man of color who owned a farm in Virginia. The author’s African ancestress, from Cameroon, remains unknown, yet Wyeth asserts “she dwells in my heart with Frances and with my mother and with all of my other grandmothers.”
Don’t miss this stunning tribute to mothers and daughters. Perhaps The Granddaughter Necklace will inspire you, too, to share some of your own family’s stories.
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