Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Seraphine G. Yazzie takes the Navajo ways and weaves them into a story that reflects a time when things were simpler and still full of beauty. Together with illustrator Baje Whitethorne, Sr. they create a myriad of images and scenes that will keep kids enchanted until the very end.
Beauty Beside Me: Stories of My Grandmother’s Skirts follows the life of one Grandmother, a woman who does so much each and every day. She weaves. She dances. She cooks, herds sheep, gets children to sleep. She makes cedar beads, and does so much more, all while wearing her colorful, beautiful Navajo skirts, which swish and dance around her as she performs her tasks. A young granddaughter notices all these things and realizes that this old woman loves her life, her family, and everything around her. And then she realizes that is the true beauty; kindness, family, love.
The girl learns so much from her Grandma, and perhaps children reading this book will learn a few things as well. Simplicity is wonderful, and some of the simplest things of all – like love – make life full and beautiful. Beauty Beside Me: Stories of My Grandmother’s Skirts is a story that gives kids a glimpse into a life far from their own. Picture books such as this one tell them a lesson without being pushy or annoying. The bonds of family are important and readers will see that right away.
Adding even more to this story are Whitethorne’s illustrations, which are truly rich and full of colors which echo the wide open areas where this particular Navajo family lives. The texture is impressive, making it difficult to distinguish whether watercolors or colored pencils made these pictures. Kids will also get to see some of the tools used by Grandmother as she performs her daily tasks.
Experiencing a different culture and realizing that there are the same values throughout can be an interesting experience for a youngster. Even so, it’s a good story with a solid message. Set for release in February 2010 and for children of 4-8, Beauty Beside Me: Stories of My Grandmother’s Skirts is a nice daytime read.