Cover image for Sky sash so blue
Sky sash so blue
Hathorn, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1998.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 33 cm
The special sky blue sash that a young slave girl offers to give her older sister for her wedding dress becomes a tie that binds the family together when the sister moves away.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.5 0.5 69158.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.3.H287 SK 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
PZ8.3.H287 SK 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.3.H287 SK 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Susannah has a treasure: a beautiful blue sash all her own. But there's an even bigger secret. Susannah's older sister is getting married -- married to a free black man. This story of a wedding gown stitched together from rags and patches and of a family whose love holds them together in slavery and in freedom features exceptional collages by the American artist Benny Andrews.

Author Notes

Libby Hathorn was born Elizabeth Hathorn in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. She was brought up in the Sydney suburbs of Maroubra and then Tamarama Beach. Hathorn received her eduation at Maroubra Junction Primary School, Sydney Girls High School, Balmain Teachers College, and Macquarie University. She's held past jobs as a lab assistant, teacher, teacher-librarian, senior education officer, producer, and antique-spotter.

Hathorn's title, Way Home, was the recipient of the Kate Greenaway medal and has been translated into several languages. As well as her twenty fiction titles, Hathorn has also written educational books and video scripts currently in use in Australia and Canada. Several of her children's books have won awards in the Children's Book of the Year Awards, including The Tram to Bondi Beach and Thunderwith. She was awarded a Centenary Medal in the year 2003. Hallmark Hall of Fame made a movie of her bestselling young adult novel, Thunderwith, re-titled The Echo of Thunder. It starred Judy Davis, who was nominated for an Emmy Award. Hathorn has also been awarded a partnership grant with illustrator Celia Bride to work with Olivetti Australia to produce a hybrid CD/Internet project called The Wishing Cupboard based on an Asian tale.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. The bright fabric collage illustrations are a dramatic part of this story about a slave who secretly makes her daughter Sissy a wedding dress out of scraps and patches. Told in the voice of Sissy's young sister, Susannah, the verse narrative is sometimes awkward in rhyme and rhythm, but the pictures are simple and graceful, expressing the energy of the women who "laugh, talk, and sew" and the courage of those who together stitch hope out of "next-to-nothing." After the wedding, the dress must be taken apart again, but Susannah knows as she labors in the house that the rags she uses to dust and clean are a wedding dress and that one day her sister's husband will buy their freedom. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Words and artwork play off of one another like musical riffs in this story of one family who transforms fabric scraps into art and whose bonds of love are stronger than the chains of slavery. Readers may well suspect that Hathorn (Grandma's Shoes) conceived her eloquent, rhyming narrative poem in tandem with Andrews, who crafts dramatic tableaulike paintings with accents made of canvas and cut paper. Susannah, a young slave girl, treasures a "sash of pale blue, made of pieces of sky" stitched and given to her by her mother. When Susannah's mother runs out of material to complete her sister Sissy's wedding dress, Susannah offers her pale blue prize, but Sissy refuses it. Only later, when Sissy's new husband John, a freed man, returns for his bride does Sissy accept the offering ("This gift of Susannah's will tie us fast,/ No matter how long till we meet again,/ This sash says our love got to last"). In one especially resonant spread, the newly married couple raises their attenuated faces and arms toward the sky in a joyful stylized dance. Hathorn infuses the text with quiet hope. Even as Susannah's mother cuts up the wedding dress to make dusters for the "Missus," Susannah reminds her "out of nothing you made something"; the next page shows a moment of levity‘as the girl polishes with the rag, she remarks, "Didn't you dance at my sister's wedding?" Together, Hathorn and Andrews vividly bring home this powerful story's silent refrain: that hope and joy can persist amid enormous sorrow. Ages 5-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4ÄSusannah, a young slave, tells this story of heartbreak and hope, beginning with a touching description of her mother's diligent hands. The girl's sister is going to be married and for her wedding, Ma'am has been busy stitchingÄfirst a sky-blue sash for Susannah and then, for Sissy, a wedding dress of scraps carefully collected from their mistress's discards. After the brief ceremony, the groom must immediately return to his distant employer. Worse, Sissy's dress must be torn apart to restore the missing rags. When Sissy's husband finally returns to buy her freedom, the family's parting is bittersweetÄeased, in part, by Susannah's sacrifice of her sash as a farewell gift and by the shared hope that the future holds freedom for them all. As in Hathorn's Grandma's Shoes (Little, Brown, 1994), an article of clothing is used to symbolize the indomitable spirit of family. The poetic text employs dialect and repetition effectively although there are occasional lapses in rhyme and meter. The fabric-collage illustrations are especially appropriate to the story; their power and simplicity reflect the lives they portray. The tall, slim profile of the book itself and the generous use of white space further enhance the tactile interest of the figures. Best shared with children already aware of slavery and its sorrows, Susannah's narrative makes human and accessible the poignant struggles of a people, a family, and one little girl.ÄCarol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.