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The Vine Basket

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  357 Ratings  ·  84 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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Feb 26, 2013 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
Feb 03, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
3 FEB 2014 -- head over heels cover love. Subtle coloring and lettering. Perfect.
Sharla Desy
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read as a potential Battle of the Books 2019 long list candidate. Definitely nominate for long list. Reading level may be too high (lexile 740) - recommend to Middle Schools.

Beautiful story about persistence and risk-taking. Set in the region of China inhabited by the Uyghur people, The Vine Basket is the story of 14-year-old Merighul, whose family's fortune has been on the decline since the Han Chinese took over their land. Her brother participated in a protest, and has run away, fearing govern
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
3.5 stars

This takes place in modern time, but because it is about the Uyghur people who are dying out and still live in a way that is traditional for their people, it seems at first as if it were from an older time.

Mehrigul is no longer in school. Her older brother is gone. Her father (Ata) is always gambling and drinking. Her mother (Ana) is weak and stays in bed most days. She also has a younger sister who is in school and a grandfather who weaves baskets beautifully the way his father taught
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
Jan 18, 2013 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
Bluerose's  Heart
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: clean, asian, girl-read
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 01, 2013 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
Harry Brake
Jul 19, 2013 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
Debra Goodman
Sep 22, 2013 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 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
Jan 31, 2014 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.
Denise Del gianni
The cover art is a 5 and is what got my attention! The story is a 3.5 and a valuable read for middle grades learning about the world and values in different countries. Young girls will especially relate to Mehrigul's story of wanting to attend school and make something more of herself, but instead is required to work on the family farm. The Vine Basket informs readers of the plight of the Uyghur people and their culture that is at risk of dying out.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read about a region taken over by China. I enjoyed the topic and characters. Mehrigul is a teen who is working on her family's land and at the market instead of going to school. Her brother left her family perhaps a year or so earlier because of protests, so she has to take care of the family now. The mother is reserved and not disinterested in taking care of the family, and the father is an alcoholic who gambles away their money. However, one day at market Mehrigul is able to sel ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: asiatic
This half price white savior narrative reads like a freshman anthropology term paper of a student who, half baked, watched the movie version of the assigned text. Cobbled together from tweet-sized tidbits on culture and served by an all too obvious author cameo-in-spirit as the “foreign lady” , comes 2013’s most saccharine tribute to old, middle class, white lady’s fantasies of China. I mourn the real Uyghur girl whose aesthetic was hollowed out and filled with a pitiful advertisement for fair t ...more
Kate Hastings
In western China, the Uygher people have suffered under communist China rule. Mehrigul, a 14 year-old girl, has dropped out of school to take care of her alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. Each week they sell squash, corn husks and baskets at the market. If she's lucky, her father won't drink away all the profit before they return home. Then one day at the market a foreign woman notices a simple basket Mehrigul had made with grapevines. She purchases it for a large sum of money and promis ...more
Richie Partington
Aug 27, 2013 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
May 18, 2014 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
Carol Royce Owen
Jan 18, 2015 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
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
Jul 06, 2013 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
Karen Kline
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fourteen-year-old Mehrigul lives a peasant's existence under Chinese rule in her Uyghur village in an area that has recently been occupied by the Han. Mehrigul's older brother Memet has fled seeking safety after participating in a peaceful protest of the Han Chinese rule that among other things sends young Uyghur girls to work in far off factories. Mehrigul is left to help her family scratch out a meager existence selling baked squash, peaches, and even corn husks from their farm at the marketpl ...more
The Vine Basket tells the story of Mehrigul, a Uyghur girl who lives with her family in an area of China that her people call East Turkestan. Mehrigul, 14, has to shoulder more responsibility on her family farm ever since her older brother ran away to protest the rule of the Han Chinese. One day, while selling her family's peaches at the market, an American woman wants to buy a vine basket that Mehrigul had woven. Mehrigul, thinking that her basket is far more worthless than the willow baskets t ...more
Sarah Evans
Feb 04, 2014 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
Emily Morris
Oct 25, 2013 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
Dec 09, 2014 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
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
What I will tell kids: Interesting view into a very different life than any of you are likely to live. Mehrigul lives in the Uyghur region of China, her family has a small farm, and Mehrigul can no longer go to school because her labor is needed on the farm, since her older brother has left home to avoid being arrested for protesting Chinese government policies. However, she may not be able to keep working on the farm, since the Uyghur girls who aren't in school can be sent by the government to ...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
Claudia Hall
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
Dec 05, 2015 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
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