Cover image for This is the rope : a story from the Great Migration
This is the rope : a story from the Great Migration
Physical Description:
30 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Reading Level:
AD 790 L Lexile
Added Author:
A rope passed down through the generations frames an African American family's story as they journey north during the time of the Great Migration.


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Book EASY WOO 1 1
Book EASY WOO 1 1
Book EASY WOO 1 1
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Book EASY WOO 0 1
Book EASY WOO 1 1

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Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

The story of one family's journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family's history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

Newbery Honor-winning author Jacqueline Woodson and Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator James Ransome use the rope to frame a thoughtful and moving story as readers follow the little girl's journey. During the time of the Great Migration, millions of African American families relocated from the South, seeking better opportunities. With grace and poignancy, Woodson's lilting storytelling and Ransome's masterful oil paintings of country and city life tell a rich story of a family adapting to change as they hold on to the past and embrace the future.

Author Notes

Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio on February 12, 1963. She received a B.A. in English from Adelphi University in 1985. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a drama therapist for runaways and homeless children in New York City. Her books include The House You Pass on the Way, I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Lena, and The Day You Begin. She won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2001 for Miracle's Boys. After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way won Newbery Honors. Brown Girl Dreaming won the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award in 2015. Her other awards include the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. She was also selected as the Young People's Poet Laureate in 2015 by the Poetry Foundation.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Woodson's (Each Kindness) gentle, unpretentious writing and Ransome's eloquent artwork breathe life into this story of a close-knit African-American family and their pursuit of a better life. The rope of the title is used over and over, tying luggage to the family station wagon when they leave South Carolina, airing diapers outside their new Brooklyn apartment, serving as a jump rope for the narrator's mother as a girl, then securing boxes as she later goes off to college. Ransome (Light in the Darkness) pays close attention to the details of life in 1970s and '80s Brooklyn, from the posters on a bedroom wall and silverware drying by the sink to the dubious expressions of the neighborhood preteens as they survey the new girl. The rope that unites the family then passes to a new generation, as the narrator learns how to jump rope, "right here in Brooklyn, just last Friday night." The chronicle of a homely object in an age of disposables and the sense of place Woodson and Ransome evoke make this an especially strong and vibrant fictive memoir. Ages 5-8. Author's agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

"This is the rope my grandmother found / beneath an old tree / a long time ago / back home in South Carolina." The narrator's grandmother first uses it as her skipping rope. Later, she migrates north to Brooklyn as a young woman with her own family, and the rope is used in many other ways: to help tie their belongings to the top of their car, as a clothesline for laundry, as a cord for a pull toy, etc. But in each succeeding generation, one little girl uses it as skipping rope, sometimes as a solo pastime and sometimes in group play. As with the quilt passed down from generation to generation in Show Way (rev. 11/05), the rope becomes a symbol of family tradition and continuity against a backdrop of historical and social change. Woodson's understated but eloquent text gives specific details of one family's experience (the scent of South Carolina pine, the feeling of uncertainty of driving down a busy urban street for the first time, the pride in finally owning their own home), while Ransome's rich oil paintings provide historical context (Afros and dashikis in the 1960s, posters of Michael Jackson and Prince on a bedroom wall in the 1980s, mom's business suit in the 2000s). It all comes full circle in the end as Grandma sits on the front stoop watching her grandchild skip rope, just as she had done at the girl's age, and the sight stirs a "long-ago memory of sweet-smelling pine." kathleen t. horning (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

A little African American girl skips rope back home in South Carolina in the mid-twentieth century. When she is grown, with a husband and a baby girl, she uses that rope to tie up their belongings as they move to New York City. A few years later, it becomes a skipping rope for her little girl. And when she grows up, her father uses it to tie up her belongings for the drive to college. Later, she marries and has a little girl of her own, who skips rope in Brooklyn. That child narrates this intergenerational family story, which (in an author's note) Woodson relates to the Great Migration. Expressive oil paintings illustrate the clean, well-cadenced text in scenes that include well-researched period details. Although it is difficult to convey the passage of so much time in a 32-page picture book, and children may have trouble keeping track of the generations, there's no doubt of the warmth and strength of the family ties that bind these individuals together. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY-- Woodson and Ransome both have huge followings who will be interested in what this collaboration has produced.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

Three picture books capture the objects and incidents that form a child's heritage. WHAT parent wasn't thrilled to hear about the Emory University study suggesting that children who are told stories about their families' pasts may develop a greater ability to cope with the vicissitudes of life? But most children's books that convey a sense of family history and tradition - "All-of-a-Kind Family," "Little House in the Big Woods" - are written with the older child in mind. Younger children are more likely to learn the day-to-day habits of rabbits, monkeys and bears. So it's refreshing to find three new picture books that take as their subject the stories of human families, illuminating the ways certain rituals - along with sayings, jokes, pastimes and world views - get passed down through the generations. Set in the early 20th century, "Rifka Takes a Bow" follows the daughter of two actors through the ragtag yet magical realm of a Yiddish theater on New York's Lower East Side. The 96-year-old author Betty Rosenberg Perlov grew up in that world (her mother was an actress, her father a writer and producer), and it's clear she knows it well. In telling her story, she's helped along by Cosei Kawa, whose intricately lovely drawings, with their Chagall-like colors and perspective, establish an appropriately folkloric atmosphere. As Rifka watches her parents transform into stock characters - "Papa pastes on a brown, curly mustache and picks up a cane. Mama puts on a white wig" - the book recognizes the abiding mystery of parents, with their alluring yet inscrutably adult ways. "Piff-Paff! Not to worry. I am really your papa," her disguised father later tells her. "How else would I know your name is Rifkeleh?" Mirroring the way that children negotiate a love of make-believe with their deepening knowledge of artifice, Rifka likes to be reminded that on stage, blood is ketchup, whiskey is tea, and when an actor hits another actor no one gets hurt "because a stagehand slaps his hands together behind the curtain." When the curtain rises, Rifka sits on the sidelines until she's drawn up a flight of stairs into the center of the action. Piff-Paff. Not to worry. She handles the pressure of the spotlight just fine. Vividly capturing a bygone New York, "Rifka Takes a Bow" also celebrates the enduring pleasures of childhood, from cherry pie to the thrill of exiting a subway station ("I am always glad to see the sky"). Written in English, it offers a charming tribute to the droll cadences, reassuring logic and irrepressible humor of Yiddish itself. IN "This Is the Rope," the Newbery Honor winner Jacqueline Woodson uses a common household item to reflect one family's experience of the Great Migration. "This is the rope my grandmother found beneath an old tree a long time ago back home in South Carolina," the young narrator recounts. "This is the rope my grandmother skipped under the shade of a sweet-smelling pine." Spare and evocative as a poem, Woodson's refrain winds through the book, fastening us to the comfort of memories and the strength of family ties. That same rope binds luggage to the top of the car that takes that grandmother, along with her husband and baby daughter, to New York City, where she holds on to it as they drive into the big city - a telling image for children, who are constantly asked to venture into new situations while retaining a sense of self. That same rope is used at their new house in Brooklyn to dry flowers, as a clothes line, to pull a child's duckie, and always to recall home. A tangible sign of the family's connection to the past - and a measure of the distance they've traveled - the rope helps get the grown daughter's belongings to college, and eventually comes back to Brooklyn, where the young narrator learns to tie a sailor's knot with it and to jump rope with her mother "just last Friday night." The illustrator James Ransome's warm, orange-infused palette and realistic tableaus link the South to the North, history to hope and one generation to the next. When, after a big reunion, the rope is returned to the narrator's grandmother, its rightful owner, one feels the satisfaction of a story coming full circle. LIKE "This Is the Rope," Patricia Polacco's book "The Blessing Cup" centers on an item, in this case a cup that links the author to her Russian-Jewish family's turbulent past. A companion book to "The Keeping Quilt," reprinted this month in a 25th anniversary edition, the story brings to life Polacco's greatgrandmother Anna's childhood in a shtetl in Russia, beginning ominously as she hides with her mother and sister in an animal shed during a pogrom. Later, Anna's mother takes down "a magnificent china tea set" - along with Anna's bright red babushka, one of the few colored objects in Polacco's detailed pencil drawings - so that the family can celebrate the Sabbath. When the synagogue is burned down and all the Jews in the village are ordered to leave, the set - a wedding present from an aunt in Minsk that came with its own special blessings - is preciously packed for the difficult journey to America. After a welcome respite at the house of a kind doctor the family make their way out of Russia, and by the time they arrive in New York Harbor, only a cup remains, a vivid reminder of "the bread, salt, love and richness of being together." If "The Blessing Cup" never quite lifts offfrom its history lesson as do "Rifka Takes a Bow" and "This Is the Rope," it nonetheless imparts a valuable message. When the original cup breaks in two, Polacco, now its custodian, decides to give one piece each to her two children, reminding us - as do all these books in their own ways - that no matter how fragmented, family history needs to be cherished and passed along in order to survive across the years. * From "This Is the Rope." RIFKA TAKES A BOW By Betty Rosenberg Perlov Illustrated by Cosei Kawa 32 pp. Kar-Ben Publishing. $17.95. (Picture book; ages 5 to 9) THIS IS THE ROPE A Story From the Great Migration By Jacqueline Woodson Illustrated by James Ransome 32 pp. Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 5 to 8) THE BLESSING CUP Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco 48 pp. A Paula Wiseman Book/ Simon & Schuster. $17.99. (Picture book, ages 4 to 8) Valerie Steiker is the culture editor of Vogue and the author of "The Leopard Hat: A Daughter's Story." Valerie Steiker reviews new books for readers ages 5 to 9, including "Rifka Takes a Bow," by Betty Rosenberg Perlov; "This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration," by Jacqueline Woodson, and "The Blessing Cup," by Patricia Polacco.

School Library Journal Review

Gr K-2-Something as simple as a discarded rope has tied a family story together through several generations. In the middle of the 20th century, an African American family moves from South Carolina to Brooklyn, NY, making the great migration north as many other families bravely did at the time. This tale follows a family through several generations, always coming back to the rope and its impact on the family as it's used to jump rope and tie suitcases to their car for the drive north. Channie Waites narrates with soothing and rhythmic tones. The story ends on a heartwarming, positive note with a family reunion which lends itself to further classroom discussion about the importance of family. VERDICT Woodson's story of family is a wonderful addition to any collection and will prove helpful for discussing civil rights with students.-Jessica -Gilcreast, Bedford High School, NH (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

With great affection, a Brooklyn girl tells the story of her grandmother, mother and a rope that forms a bond across three generations. When just a little girl in South Carolina, the grandmother finds a rope under a tree and uses it to play jump-rope. The rope becomes entwined in the family story as the grandparents, with a baby in their arms, move to Brooklyn, and that baby grows up to become mother to the narrator. Whether used for games, for tying down luggage on a car or for holding high a banner at a grand family reunion, the rope is treasured. Woodson, a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor and Award winner, has crafted a warm family saga of a household united by love, pride and an uncommon heirloom. The repetition of the title in a nursery-rhyme style will resonate with young listeners. Ransome's vivid, full-bleed, double-pagespread oil paintings create an upbeat, welcoming vista of rural South Carolina and urban Brooklyn. The sun-infused yellows on the cover beckon readers to open the book and savor the "long-ago memory of sweet-smelling pine." A quiet affirmation of a strong and close-knit family that, along with so many other African-Americans, found a better life as part of the Great Migration. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.