Cover image for The everlasting embrace
The everlasting embrace
Emanuel, Gabrielle.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, An Imprint of Penguin Group, (USA) 2014.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 29 cm
A young child describes her experiences of life in Mali as she spends a day carried in a blanket on her mother's back.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Each morning as the sun brightens the West African sky, mother and child prepare to start their day. They spend it bound together, the child riding on the mother's back watching their world go past. Pounding millet, drawing water from the well, visiting friends, shopping at the outdoor market--days are shared in perfect step with one another. And even when the child grows big enough to go off and explore their world, the everlasting embrace endures.

Illustrated with E.B. Lewis's stunning watercolors that bring to life the land and people of Mali, Gabrielle Emanuel's tender story celebrates the universal bond between mother and child.

Author Notes

Gabrielle Emanuel lived in Mali for a year after graduating from Dartmouth. She worked in the health sector in the small town of Bandiagara and later in the capitol of Bamako. She would often read to one little girl, and was dismayed that none of the books available reflected the landscape and culture of the country. For the next two years she was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford studying public policy; she now works at NPR in Washington, D.C., where she currently lives. Gabrielle has always loved traveling and storytelling. The Everlasting Embrace , her first book, gave her the opportunity to combine those loves.
E.B. Lewis has illustrated many acclaimed picture books, including his collaborations with Jacqueline Woodson: Each Kindness , The Other Side , and Coming On Home Soon , which was named a Caldecott Honor Book. He received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Talkin' About Bessie by Nikki Grimes. He teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia and makes his home in Folsom, New Jersey.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Presenting a portrait of a Malian mother and child (and inspired by the author's yearlong stay in the west African country), Emanuel's debut is written from the child's perspective, though with an adult vocabulary and sensibility-an odd combination. Nestled in a blanket tied to its mother's back ("my little cocoon"), the child observes that, "We are bound together." Building on the idea, the baby takes comfort in knowing that neither of them needs to hold on to the other as her mother goes about her daily chores: "We are simply one." Through her protagonist's observations ("I have a front row seat on the world, where I can watch everything that happens"), Emanuel also portrays village life (grinding millet, learning to dance, walking through a busy marketplace), while maintaining a focus on this intimate family bond, even after the child grows too big to be carried. Lewis's (Coming on Home Soon) dappled watercolors both ground the story in the details of its specific setting-fishing boats resting by the shore, vibrant clothing-and reflect the characters' mutual, unconditional devotion, which stretches across borders. Ages 3-5. Illustrator's agency: Dwyer & O'Grady. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-While spending a year in Mali, Emanuel decided to write a book that reflected life there. The resulting story follows a young child who observes her surroundings while riding on her mother's back. Connected by the blanket secured tightly around them, mother and child grind grain, greet friends, shop at the market, and enjoy each other's company. While the basic idea is commendable, the narrator's voice sounds more like an adult than a toddler's. For example, the smell of ripe mangoes "draws us onward with the unspoken promise that a treat awaits." The child notes that "my eyes well up and leak tears." Occasionally, a toddler's voice breaks through, such as when Emanuel describes the pair's dance. "Tiptoe. Squat down. Bounce, bounce, bounce." What works consistently are Lewis's paintings, which capture the affection of mother and child, the brightly patterned cloths, the busy market stalls. Emanuel's photos, included with her author statement, reveal similar scenes. Perhaps adults who want to introduce this culture to young children can savor the illustrations and supply their own simplified text.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University Library, Mankato (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.