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Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  37 reviews
From critically acclaimed author Jeannine Atkins comes a gorgeous, haunting biographical novel in verse about a half Native American, half African American sculptor working in the years following the Civil War.

A sculptor of historical figures starts with givens but creates her own vision. Edmonia Lewis was just such a sculptor, but she never spoke or wrote much about her p
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I'd never heard of Edmonia Lewis until I read this novel in verse. She was half Native American and half freed black, and she attended Oberlin College, which was one of the first to allow women. Unfortunately, even though Edmonia was a woman, she still was not an equal of the other women who attended the school because of her race. (That surprised me, though, it really shouldn't have.) Various people tried to steer her into a profession "suitable" for women of the time, but she wanted to be a sc ...more
Shauna Yusko
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
8-12. Interesting in that it makes me want to learn more. Not a fan of the words "biographical novel" but as a novel in verse it works well. ...more
Terri Gulyas
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-read
Very quick read due to verse style of writing. Thought it was a book of poetry when I first picked it up. Style was initially off-putting but after reading about Edmonia and the challenges in discovering her life story, I was intrigued. Although this is identified as YA, I can't imagine perceiving the depth of the story at a more tender age. Once again, the value of a book group leading me to read books I wouldn't otherwise choose is reinforced. ...more
Erin Logan
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This fictionalized novel in verse covers the art and potential life of Edmonia Lewis, a biracial sculptor living after the American Civil War. I loved the speculation and parallels of sculpting, Rome, and mythology. This cover is beautiful and the content is powerful. It's a little mature, so I would put it in hands of my older kids. ...more
my favourite kind of book is the books where women are artists and tell their story through verse and find strength in the women of the bible who are forgotten
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Edmonia Lewis was the first professional African-American sculptor. She lived and worked in the period right after the Civil War. This verse novel takes the little information known about Edmonia and fills in the gaps with what may have happened. Edmonia attended Oberlin College, one of the first colleges to accept women and people of color. Half Objibwe and half African-American, Edmonia struggles to find her place at Oberlin. When she is accused by other students of poisoning and theft she is ...more
Read for Librarian Book Group
This is the story of Edmonia Lewis, an African American and Indian American sculptor who worked in the late 19th century. Lewis' story is told in verse and includes her time at Oberlin College, life in Boston and Italy, and her return as an exhibitor in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.

Much of Lewis' story has been lost to history which is why Jeannine Atkins chose to write this story in verse. As we've lost many of the stories of women, I will happily
When writing reviews, I frequently mention how much I learn from reading fiction. In the case of Stone Mirrors: the Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis, I learned about an artist of whom I had never heard. Edmonia Lewis was a teen during the Civil War. Her mother was a Cherokee and her father was African American. She was orphaned early and spent time at Oberlin College & Conservatory - one of the first schools to fully integrate white, black, male, and female students. After tragic circumsta ...more
Kelly Snyder
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a little hard to follow, but it has so much information in it that I was compelled to read it. Edmonia Lewis was a well known sculptor who lived and worked during the mid to late 1800s. The daughter of a former slave and an Ojibwa Indian and raised by her native American aunts, Edmonia was different in many ways. She attended Oberlin College, the first interracial and co-ed college in the United States, but after being accused of poisoning two girls she was asked to leave. A crimina ...more
Sandy Brehl
I could win a bet with most people if I asked them to identify Edmonia Lewis. Until reading this book I'd have lost that bet myself. Each section of this novel in verse peels back a layer on her talented but mysterious life: a year in Oberlin at the time of the Civil War, two years in a Boston apprenticeship in sculpture, and ten years in Rome. Not much beyond that is known about her, and many of her widely praised works have been lost to history.
In each phase readers discover not only her chall
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked the poetry in this book. I felt that it was truly a novel in verse, whereas many others I've read that claim to be so are not as classically "poetic". I had come across the name and work of Edmonia Lewis a few weeks ago and I wanted to learn more about her. I couldn't easily access the one adult biography of her that I found, so I read this instead. I'm not sure how much I learned (my original motive), but I certainly was inspired to go and find that adult biography I had original ...more
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of Edmonds Lewis but after reading this biographical novel in verse, it made me want to learn more about her. She was half Obijwe Indian and half African American. Her father was a free black man and the family moved to safety right before the Civil War. Her life was not easy but out of her hardships she became very determined to reach her goals...and she did. This was my first time reading a novel in verse and it was difficult for me to get started but once I did, I could not ...more
Dec 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Edmonia Lewis was the first professional African-American sculptor, active in the U.S. and Italy during mid- to late-1800s. This fictionalized biography in verse elaborates on what little is known of the life of this largely unknown and unheralded artist, from her upbringing among the Chippewa and her time at Oberlin College, to studying sculpture in Rome and exhibiting her work at the 1876 World's Fair in Philadelphia. Hers is a life of many question marks, and it is a shame we know so little a ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At first it annoyed me to read a made up story about a real person, especially not knowing which parts were true. But somewhere along the way, that fell to the wayside as I got involved with the story. This story has a strong emotional pull, an effect due, at least in part, to the fact that it is written in verse. I appreciated the "Who was Edmonia Lewis?" section at the end that told more about the main character and also clarified fact from fiction. ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book, written in rhyme, is captivating. A fictional story about sculptor Edmonia Lewis. Atkins handles the combination of Edmonia's internal and external conflicts with concise and vivid diction, which clearly defines Lewis' tenacity and courage.

Reading this book has left me with a new interest in learning more about Lewis and the other real artists mentioned in the book. While this book may not be for everyone, I think it is well worth reading.
Claire DM
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: YA, historians, lovers of prose
Shelves: poetry-prose
Short and lovely history of a truly Hidden Figure written in prose form. Tells the life of Ojibwa & African American female sculptor Emonia Lewis. I really appreciated the form, which lends itself well to writing about historical figures of whom very few details of life are known. Sweet but poignant, the poetry stands on it's own, or as a way to get a reader interested in knowing more about Lewis and her work. ...more
May Alcott (Borrowed Names), Maria Merian, Mary Anning, Maria Mitchell (Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science) Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madame C.j. Walker, Marie Curie &Their Daughters (Borrowed Names)

The books above are not all of Jeannine Atkin's stories of women. But they are my favorites, at least they were until I read her most recent telling titled Stone Mirrors about Edmonia Lewis, well known (in the art world?) sculptor from the 19th century. Jeannine's ability to soak the chara
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Always good to learn about someone new, however fictional some of the people/events were. I wasn't aware of Edmonia prior to reading this book, and now I will make it a point to visit a museum during my travels that feature her art. Her name is now known to me and I can speak it. #blackgirlmagicbeenaroundforaverylongtime ...more
Biographical verse novel about sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis, daughter of a free African-American and a Native American woman, who attended Oberlin College only to be kicked out on suspicion of murder or intent to murder. I want a full-blown biography of this woman.
The plus here: learning about the existence and art of Edmonia Lewis. The minus -- well, the verse form leaves a lot to the imagination -- which makes it a reasonable choice for a figure whom much is unknown, but is frustrating in its slender narrative.
Molly Dettmann
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
"A stone can break
like mirrors or history.
She can't ever look away."
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quiet, thoughtful, contemplative
This novel in verse really didn't work for me - the pacing is slow and the fascinating history plods along drearily. I was forcing myself to read from the start, and although it picks up a bit in the latter half, I was already no longer invested. ...more
A fictionalized biography in verse about African American/Ojibwa sculptor Edmonia Lewis (1800's). Supported with sources ...more
Mary Lee
The poetry of this story is luminescent (which is not a solid enough word for a sculpture metaphor, but there is a glow...).
I loved this book and makes me wish I had gone to the African -american museum in Boston. What a fascinating woman.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written verse novel inspired by the life of Edmonia Lewis, who was a sculptor of Haitian and Ojibwe heritage.
Gina Schaarschmidt
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
So, here again, I get strong-armed into reading book in verse, start reading it, and become completely immersed. This one is going to be a hard sell. A multicultural historical fiction novel written in verse? How am I going to book talk this one?

I don't know. The kids are just going to have to trust me on this. The book is a heart-wrenching, beautifully written quick read about a mixed race (African-American-Native-American) girl who attends a progressive desegregated, co-educational college on
Mignon DeLarre
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Was really good and a quick read.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was truly captivated by STONE MIRRORS. Apparently, so were Kirkus and Booklist who both gave the book starred reviews. It's the powerful and inspiring story of Edmonia Lewis—a woman of African-Haitian and Native American (Ojibwe) descent, who is presented with the opportunity to study at a newly interracial Oberlin College during the Civil War years. While there, she is accused of attempted murder, subjected to a violent attack, and later accused of theft and forced to leave one semester short ...more
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Jeannine Atkins is the author of Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science, Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math, and Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott. She teaches in the MFA program at Simmons College. You can learn more on her website at ...more

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