Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ellen’s Broom

Title:  Ellen’s Broom
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrator: Daniel Minter
Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Historical Fiction
Level: Primary
Number of Pages:  30
Pub. Date: 2012

Summary: Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. But after it’s announced in church that the marriages of former slaves will be registered, she hears more about why it matters so much. For her mama and papa, who could be sold away at a master's whim and whose union had no legal protection, jumping the broom was a way to show their commitment to being husband and wife. Now, as the whole family travels to the courthouse dressed in their best, Ellen carries the broom with them. With love, ingenuity and pride, she finds a way to celebrate her parents' right to be legally married and remember their past.

Critique: This piece would fall under the category of a piece that is historically researched with
imaginary characters. There’s no proof that Ellen and her family actually existed, but I’m sure families like hers did. The traditions like jumping the broom and events like the freeing of slaves were actual, historically accurate traditions and events.  This piece does represent a quality work of historical fiction for several reasons. It reveals history through a character that readers can relate to, a young girl who is finding out about her family traditions. It also presents the history of the times without sheltering the reader. The mother in the story tell how it was possible that husbands and wives would be separated and sold to different masters even if they saw themselves as married, it didn’t mean anything in the way of the law.

Response: My favorite character in this book is Ellen and it’s not just because she’s the main character, she also has so much spirit. I loved when she wanted to make her mom feel special at her wedding by adding flowers to the broom even though they couldn’t afford any fancy dresses or anything. She is also really close to her family, which I value a lot as well.

Pictures from actual “Broom Weddings” then and now: 


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