Lisa Rowe Fraustino The Hickory Chair

ISBN 13: 9780590522489

The Hickory Chair

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9780590522489: The Hickory Chair
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Luis, a blind boy, tells of his warm relationship with his grandmother and the gift she left for him after her death, in a unique and beautiful book about love, from the perspective of a blind child.

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Review:

"I loved Gran's smell, and her warm face when we played touch-your-nose at the gold mirror, and her salty kisses when we sat on Gramps's old army trunk in the attic and listened to the wind sing on the roof."

Blind since birth, Louis uses all his senses to love his grandmother and feel her love for him. When she dies and Louis seems to have been forgotten in the family treasure hunt Gran arranged in lieu of a will, he must hold on to his knowledge of her love for him and his memories of her smell--"lilacs, with a whiff of bleach"--and her "molasses voice" to know he could never have been overlooked. It is a lifetime later, when Louis is a grandfather himself, that his conviction is affirmed by his "favorite youngest grandchild's" discovery in Gran's much-loved hickory chair.

Nothing is overdone in Lisa Rowe Fraustino's beautiful story that shows the profound power of "blind sight," Gran's term for Louis's ability to "see" so much. And the exquisite paintings, in oils and fabric collage by artist Benny Andrews (Sky Sash So Blue) have a tactile appeal, drawing in the reader to Louis's world, as though we are seeing the way he does. (Ages 6 to 10) --Emilie Coulter

From Publishers Weekly:

Fraustino's (Ash) affecting story introduces a boy who has been blind since birth, yet, as his beloved Gran confides, "You got blind sight." Louis uses his other senses to savor the presence of this loving woman, who "had a good alive smell lilacs, with a whiff of bleach" and "gave salty kisses when we sat on Gramps's old army trunk in the attic and listened to the wind sing on the roof." And Louis "loved her molasses voice" as Gran read to him from the hickory chair carved by Gramps. Andrews's (I Am the Darker Brother) oil paintings capture quiet moments shared between grandmother and grandson as well as active exchanges. Touches of fabric swatches, such as Gran's blue petticoat hemline or linen used for the wall of the attic, create a homey atmosphere. When Gran dies and her will divulges that she has hidden notes "for each of my favorite people in one of my favorite things," the boy relies on his keen insight into his grandmother to find many of the notes. But none belong to him. When it comes time to sell her things, Louis's parents tell him to "just pick out something you want... Anything at all," and he chooses the hickory chair. Years pass before Louis finally finds the long-missing missive from Gran, which brings this gentle tale to a satisfying close. Fraustino's uncommonly visual prose, in concert with Andrews's spare yet emotion-filled pictures, effectively conveys the lasting bond across generations. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Lisa Rowe Fraustino
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books (2001)
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