This is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome
An African-American family leaves the South for a better life in the North. They take with them a rope that was used for jump rope on the old place in South Carolina. It was used to tie their belongings atop the car as they headed north to NYC. It was used for drying flowers, a clothesline for diapers, a jump rope and many other things in their new life. When it finally wears out, Grandma keeps the rope as a memory of times in her past as her granddaughter skips rope with a brand new one. Woodson says in her introduction that the rope is hope and, sure enough, that hope weaves in and out of the lives of all of her family. Upon opening this book I feared it might be about lynching but took heart in the subtitle indicating it was set during the Great Migration. Still, the rope is initially found under a tree. Is Woodson subtly taking the rope – a symbol of pure evil – and turning it into hope? Ransome’s oil paintings, as always, complement the text just beautifully.