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The Vine Basket

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  237 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Things aren’t looking good for fourteen-year-old Mehrigul. She yearns to be in school, but she’s needed on the family farm. The longer she’s out of school, the more likely it is that she’ll be sent off to a Chinese factory . . . perhaps never to return. Her only hope is an American woman who buys one of her decorative vine baskets for a staggering sum and says she will ret ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Clarion Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Cinder by Marissa MeyerIn the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao LordAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen YangDoes My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-FattahThe Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
Asian Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction
59th out of 112 books — 35 voters
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Middle Grade Novels of 2013
238th out of 360 books — 716 voters

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Feb 03, 2014 Wanda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
3 FEB 2014 -- head over heels cover love. Subtle coloring and lettering. Perfect.
Bluerose's  Heart
May 13, 2013 Bluerose's Heart rated it really liked it
Mehrigul is a Uyghur(WEEgur) girl. She lives in a place where young girls are sent to work in factories if they don't attend school. When those girls are needed at home just to make end's meet, their families are put in a tough spot. When Mehrigul's brother leaves home, she is forced to stay at home to help her family. Now Mehrigul is in danger of being sent away to the factories, though.

While at the market with her father, an American lady spots her plain, useless grapevine basket, and pays Meh
May 08, 2013 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books, teen
In East Turkestan, Mehrigul’s beloved brother has left the family and now her father is always angry and her mother has taken to bed. Mehrigul is forced to leave school and help out on the family farm. She also works the family market stall which is where her vine basket, created in the form of a cone rather than a more useful shape, is spotted by an American woman who offers to buy it for a very high sum. But her father just drinks and wagers away the money, leaving the family still on the brin ...more
Barb Middleton
When my daughter was young I spent 10 years as a rosemaling artist selling painted wood with decorative flowers to local specialty shops. Scandinavians in the community had a nostalgia for crafts representing their heritage and the rosemaling I did reflected different areas of Norway. People liked that I could replicate rosemaling from Valdres, Rogaland, Telemark, Hadeland, and Gudsbrandal. I took many classes and tried to hone my craft, but I never quite had that flare that made my work stand a ...more
Mar 01, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asian-literature
The Vine Basket by Josanne LaValley is definitely worthy of five stars. It is beautifully written and gives you an inside look into what it is like to be a Uyghur (pronounced as Wee ghur) girl. They are a Turkish ethnic group but live mostly in an area now considered as a part of China. My husband and I think he is descended from this group so I have a special interest in this culture.

The star of this little book is Mehigul, a little girl who is forced to stop her education by her father. Her br
Harry Brake
Jul 20, 2013 Harry Brake rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Historical, Cultural interests, Middle School up
Combining cultural geography, and themes of resistance, female empowerment, and so much more, this text by Joanne la Valley is a treasure because it conquers the culture, geography, and customs completely unfamiliar to me, and brings them to become recognized. Educating and keeping you on the edge of your seat, while introducing a partnership of business between the United States and Uyghur (pronounced WEEgur), who occupy East Turkestan, is amazing. The conflicts between this area and the Chines ...more
May 31, 2013 Bluewolf rated it it was amazing
The story is gracefully written with powerful messages about struggles, power, fear, loyalty, knowledge and humanity. So much truth and strong, complex characters make the book more realistic than fiction. However, the story itself is an unordinary wonder that only few probably experience. Still, the book is enlightening and a good source of knowledge about Uighurs and about humanity. It is enticing and inspires profound thoughts, dreams, and hope.

The novel is about a 14 year old Uighur
Debra Goodman
Sep 22, 2013 Debra Goodman rated it really liked it
In this book, Mehrigul dreams of going to school with her younger sister, but must contribute to the family farm and income. With her shy mother and father involved in gambling, Mhrigul is responsible for the family stand at the market, where she sells farm goods and baskets that her grandfather makes. She worried about being sent from Uyrghur to the south of China to work in a factory. Although basket making is a traditionally male trade, Mehrigul expresses her artistic talent through weaving u ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Camilla rated it really liked it
I wish this had been written when my children were young so I could read it to them. That being said, I will now lovingly pass it to my grandchildren. I have always Pearl Buck and Amy Tan's writings of the people of China. This does address a part of the Chinese population, a part ripped from its soul to be taken by the Communist Government. La Valley is preserving a culture of the Uyghur that is being destroyed in our lifetimes. Beautifully written, I could not put it down. Enjoy
Dec 05, 2015 Makenna rated it liked it
Shelves: t-l-307, nbgs
14-year-old Mehrigul is unable to attend school because she is needed to help out around her family farm. Mehrigul’s older brother Memet has left the farm to find what else was out in the world – leaving the farm duties up to Mehrigul. The problem is that young girls who miss school either have to pay a fine or are sent to work at factories in China. At the market one day, while Mehrigul’s father was drinking and gambling away their profit for the day, an American woman bought Mehrigul’s vine ba ...more
Carol Royce Owen
Jan 18, 2015 Carol Royce Owen rated it really liked it
The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley is a Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award nominee this year, which is my reason for having picked it up to read. Otherwise I think I would have missed it, because many of my friends who read hundreds of children books a year have not mentioned it or, as far as I can see, reviewed it.

The story of the Vine Basket is well worth telling. It tells of Mehrigul, a14 year old Uyghur (pronounced WEE gur) girl in East Turkestan who has recently been forced to drop ou
Dec 09, 2014 Vanessa rated it liked it
Shelves: t-l-307
This book is all about the life of a fourteen year old girl named Mehrigul. Instead of going to school like she wants to, her family has her working on their farm. If she continues to stay out of school, it is very likely she will end up being sent to a Chinese factory never to return. Mehrigul gains hope from an American woman who buys one of her decorative vine baskets. The woman even bought it for a shocking price and gave her word that it would not be her last purchase. Mehrigul has to endur ...more
Claudia Hall
Dec 09, 2014 Claudia Hall rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, t-l307
This story takes place in Uyghur with a fourteen-year old girl named Mehrigul. Mehrigul and her family are poor and go to the market in their town to sell fruit to make money. Her father is an alcoholic who spends all his money on gambling and her mother is depressed. Uyghur has unfair laws to say the least; if Mehrigul does not go back to school she will be transported to work in the Chinese factories. There is hope for Mehrigul and her family one day while working at the market, an American la ...more
Sarah Evans
Feb 04, 2014 Sarah Evans rated it it was amazing
Shelves: washyarg
A thoughtfully constructed portrait of Uyghur life through the eyes of a contemporary girl. Mehrigul’s family is in decline and she feels like the only one keeping it from complete collapse. They used to share a farm with her uncle and other relatives, but they moved away years ago to seek better opportunities. Their increased poverty has driven her mother into seclusion and depression. Two years earlier, her older brother’s peaceful resistance to the occupation by and policies of the Chinese go ...more
Judy Atlagh
Aug 17, 2015 Judy Atlagh rated it it was amazing
I was a huge fan of the book Half the Sky and this is right up that alley. It takes the would be life of a girl in a 3rd world country, filled with unknowns and possibilities and makes a good reality of it. Paridigms must shift, people must adapt, grow, and be willing to change, pride must be swallowed to 'make it' in the real world while holding on to family and tradition. It can work and this book shows how.

Personally, I checked out this book and listened with my children in the hopes of helpi
Feb 07, 2014 Tara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Until I started reading this book, I had never heard of the uyghur people. This book offers insight into their culture and the difficulties they face in China. It also gives us a look into a highly patriarchal society. A very interesting read.
Sarah Phoenix
Oct 08, 2014 Sarah Phoenix rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, ebook
This is a young readers book designated as a fifth grade level. I believe it would be appropriate for readers through middle school. It gives a look at the conflict of the Uyghur people and the Chinese who annexed the East Turkestan and is attempting to assimilate it and its people. The conflict also emphasized is that of the role of women in the traditional families of that region. There are distinct lines drawn regarding the social standing of families, the hierarchy within families and conseq ...more
May 01, 2014 Makenzie rated it it was amazing
For the fourteen-year-old Mehrigul things do not look good for the life she lives. All she wants to do is go to school but her family needs her working on their farm. The longer she is out of school the more likely she will be sent to a Chinese factory and may never return. She does have hope from an American woman who buys one of her decorative vine baskets for a surprising price and says she will return for more. Mehrigul must brave terrible storms, torn up hands from working the fields and he ...more
H.M. Jones
Jan 02, 2014 H.M. Jones rated it really liked it
The Vine Basket is a story of survival despite the worst odds. Mehrigul, only fourteen, is faced with the task of becoming the leader of a poverty stricken family that stopped functioning after her older brother ran from the Han regime. Her task is made even more difficult, as her father's anger and animosity for her creativity creates a barrier between Mehrigul and her dreams. Mehrigul believes that she could help her family financially if only her father would give her the go-ahead to become a ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Erica rated it really liked it
What would you do if you were not allowed to go to school? Ever since her older brother left, Mehrigul has to accompany father to market and watch the stall while he goes away to gamble and chat with friends. At home she often has to take control of the household chores while her mother is laid out with headaches. She misses school, and she misses her brother even more, but at least if she works hard perhaps she can keep her younger sister in school and make a good life for herself. Mehrigul nev ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Fourteen-year-old Merighul belongs to the Uyghur people of former East Turkestan, now China. Since China took over, life has been difficult for her people. Her brother had to leave before he was arrested for protesting. Her alcoholic father has pulled Merighul out of school and is working her to the bone on their farm, while planning to essentially sell her to a factory in China to get more money out of her. Her mother is too depressed to function well and offers little help. All Merighul wants ...more
Richie Partington
Aug 27, 2013 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
Richie's Picks: THE VINE BASKET by Josanne La Valley, Clarion, April 2013, 252p., ISBN: 978-0-547-84801-3

"The chill of the night air enveloped Mehrigul as she looked out at the stark silhouette of leafless trees, a harbinger of the long, cold winter ahead. Fallen leaves scuttled across the field, stirred by the winds blowing from the Taklamkan. The winds that had from time unknown swept over their land, trying to bury them under layers of drifting sand.
"The Uyghurs had learned to hold back the
Ms. Yingling
Mar 20, 2013 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it
Mehrigul would like to go to school in her small village in China, where she is part of the Uyghur ethnic group, but since her brother Memet has run off, she has had to stay home and help with the family farm. If she doesn't return to school, the loca government can send her off to work in the factories to fulfill its quota. There is a small possibility of hope-- an American woman has bought one of Mehrigul's vine basket for the enormous sum of 100 yuan, and has said she will come back in three ...more
An interesting book about a culture most Americans know almost nothing about. The Uyghur people live in an area they call East Turkestan. They are Muslim Central Asians. But this land is now an autonomous region of China, and the Chinese government is slowly trying to destroy the Uyghur culture. In this book, Mehrigul is a 14-year-old Uyghur girl. Her older brother has been forced to flee the country because of his participation in anti-Chinese protests. Even though she has tried to pick up her ...more
The Vine Basket is a treat for middle graders with a curiosity for travel and cultures. Set in a village in present-day East Turkestan, it is about a 13 year old Uygher girl named Mehrigul as she struggles to be both the son her family lost and the mother who has retreated into depression. His son's mysterious disappearance leaves her father bitter and mean. While he turns to gambling and alcohol to cut the disappointment, Mehrigul labors in the fields and at the market to sell their meager food ...more
After fourteen-year-old Mehrigul's older brother leaves the family farm because of political concerns, her father forces her to quit school and take his place. The work is physically demanding, and she finds some solace in visits with her former schoolmate Pati who teaches her some English and dreaming of a better life while she is at the community market selling the family's produce. But the market is a mixed blessing since girls her age who aren't in school are often forced to work in factorie ...more
Emily Morris
Oct 25, 2013 Emily Morris rated it liked it
This is one of those books that has many of the right ingredients for being great and it is those ingredients that will probably sell this book. Which is fine, and I do believe many out there will enjoy it. However, I personally found too many moments that were just too awkward for my taste. Perhaps one of the problems of a first novel. While this tale shines in a classic sort of plot, it also gets bogged down with extraneous detail, stiff writing, and weakly developed characters.

Mehrigul is the
Oswego Public Library District
In rural Uyghur life is hard and the Chinese are trying to force their culture on the Uyghur people. Mehrigal must go to school or the local government will send her to work in the Chinese factories once she comes of age. While at the market selling the family’s produce, an American woman approaches Mehrigal and wants to buy a small decorative basket that she made. Even better, the woman wants to buy more baskets from Mehrigal. Will a simple decorative basket be able to transform a bitter father ...more
definitely not a book i'd normally pick up on my own. hard to get into it at the beginning but once the relationship between mehrigul and her ata were more fleshed out i was drawn in a bit more. very sad situation, hated ata, loved her grandfather, complicated family relationships & social history of a culture i'd never heard of before. fairly predictable ending & ata's decision (& actions) in the last 10 pages mirrored the sound of music too much for my taste.
Jennifer Bane
Remembering: How much did Mrs. Chazen give Mehrigul for the vine basket?
Understanding: How would you characterize Mehrigul?
Applying: Think of a situation that occurred in the story and tell what you would have done differently.
Analyzing: What is the theme of this story?
Evaluating: Do you agree with the price Mehrigul gave Mrs. Chazen? Should she have asked for more or less? Why or why not?
Creating: What do you predict will happen in a sequel to this story?
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