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A String of Beads

by Margarette S. Reid

Book list Gr. 2^-4, younger for reading aloud. This one-of-a-kind book encompasses several elements. It is a history of beads and beadwork, an introduction to the varied kinds of beads, and a craft book full of ideas that children can use for making and stringing their own beads. Complementing Reid's informative and readable text is Wolff's artwork, which is inventive in design and meticulous in detail. Reid frames the information about beadwork in a set piece featuring a grandmother and a granddaughter happily stringing beads and talking about the objects' origins and long history. There are a few uneasy transitions (especially the segue into bead stringing by younger children), but when the text bogs down a bit, the art more than picks up the slack. Wolff is equally at home illustrating scenes of the past, such as Native Americans and their beaded design work, and creating numerous individual beads, many with their own unique designs. Much of the pleasure of the book comes from looking at the various kinds of beads, such as the special glass beads called millefiori, which means "a thousand flowers," or the animal beads called fetishes, which are carved from colored stones. Lots of uses, lots to look at, lots of fun. --Ilene Cooper

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 4?Exemplary nonfiction in picture-book format. Interest in beads has been enjoying a revival for several years, so a good book on this level is long overdue. A young girl explains that she and her grandmother collect beads and make jewelry. Readers unobtrusively learn all of the basics about beads?who, what, where, when, and why?and are also exposed to cultural history, natural history, and even some math. The narrator speaks with a true child's voice, fresh and colloquial ("Grandma laughs at my shape names. Beads that she calls disks, I call Frisbees....She says a bead that is long and round is a cylinder. I call it macaroni.") Her simplicity conveys a sense of wonder at some of the remarkable things she discovers. Wolff's artwork has never been better. The cliché "a visual feast" truly applies to many of these pages, where beads of all types are shown, their variety a delight in itself. The book's design and layout are varied and playful yet cohesive, and the frequent use of black backgrounds complements the strong lines, adding an original and somewhat exotic look. Enjoyable in itself?and a superb starting point for any number of creative activities.?Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

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