for Young Readers
Mirrors: the sculpture and silence of Edmonia Lewis
Simon & Schuster...
critically acclaimed author Jeannine Atkins comes a gorgeous, haunting
biographical novel in verse about a half Native American, half African
American sculptor working in the years following the Civil War.
A sculptor of historical figures starts with givens but creates her own
vision. Edmonia Lewis was just such a sculptor, but she never spoke or
wrote much about her past, and the stories that have come down through
time are often vague or contradictory. Some facts are known: Edmonia was
the daughter of an Ojibwe woman and an African-Haitian man. She had the
rare opportunity to study art at Oberlin, one of the first schools to
admit women and people of color, but lost her place after being accused of
poisoning and theft, despite being acquitted of both. She moved to Boston
and eventually Italy, where she became a successful sculptor.
But the historical record is very thin. The open questions about
Edmonia’s life seem ideally suited to verse, a form that is comfortable
with mysteries. Inspired by both the facts and the gaps in history, author
Jeannine Atkins imagines her way into a vision of what might have been.
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