binding…and beautiful

30 days of pbDay Three: This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration

by Jacqueline Woodson; illus. James Ransome 

Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin group), 2013.

rope coverThis is the Rope has one of the prettiest picture book covers: the warm colors, the brush work, the suspended movement. In the little girl’s hands is the legacy to which the title alludes.

“For three generations, [the] 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.”—publisher’s comments

The beautiful, rich hues continue as pages turn and time passes using historical cues in the fashion, furnishing, cars, and popular culture. Jacqueline Woodson has a smooth, rich storyteller’s tone in what translates into something more than an informative text or casual peek in the lives of a family who migrated northward—although she does include the informative for the edification of the reader.



 “From the early 1900s until the mid-1970s, more than 6 million African Americans moved from the rural South to Northern Cities. […] We came for better jobs, better treatment, better education, and better lives. This movement of Blacks from the South to the North would become known as the Great Migration.”—“Author’s Note” at the opening of the picture book.

The sense of continuity in the legacy of the little girl’s demonstration of imagination (finding the rope and implementing it) and adventurous spirit (heading away from home as a young mother with all her and her husband’s belongings strapped to the car) is stronger than a slight thread coursing throughout the picture book. The rope is both practically used, and playfully. It witnesses courageous moments and airs fresh laundry. What is constant is the presence of family; of hope: in the fresh starts of home-making, children, friendships; and the idea of legacy in the generational exchanges witnessed, and in the fact that the narrator is the youngest of the generations telling the story of her elders.


Anything Jacqueline Woodson and James Ransome are responsible for creating, individually or together, is going to be brilliant. Theirs are names to know. But This is the Rope is one you will especially loathe to have missed.


Jacqueline Woodson “is the author of more than two dozen young adult, middle grade, and picture books, including Each KindnessBeneath the Meth MoonFeathers, and Miracle’s Boys, the last of which was adapted into a miniseries directed by Spike Lee. She is a three-time Newbery Honor winner, a two-time National Book Award finalist, winner of a Coretta Scott King Award and three Coretta Scott King Honors, and a Caldecott Honor winner as well. She’s also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature, the winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Each Kindness, and is the 2013 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.” — via Scholastic.

James Ransome “The Children’s Book Council named James E. Ransome as one of seventy-five authors and illustrators everyone should know. Currently a member of the Society of Illustrators, Ransome has received both the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the IBBY Honor Award for his book, The Creation. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration for Uncle Jed’s Barbershop which was selected as an ALA Notable Book” He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. “ His commendations and commissions are impressive. “His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections. James lives in Rhinebeck New York with his wife Lesa Cline Ransome a writer of children’s books. They live in the Hudson Valley with their four children and one St. Bernard.–via author’s site biography.

{images belong to James Ransome}


Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

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  1. Pingback: Africville

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