With spare and poetic text, Cherokee author Traci Sorell (We Are Grateful: Otsalhilega) presents in At the Mountain's Base a family of women bound together by love. Tucked away in a cottage "at the mountain's base" next to a hickory tree, in a home filled with warmth, unity and pride, the women weave threads of red, gold, green and black to create a wonderful fabric. While they create the tapestry, they worry about and pray for the return of one of their own--a pilot in the Women's Airforce Service. As their invocation rises up, readers get a glimpse of their loved one, soaring in her plane. Overlooking both the pilot and the cabin is an otherworldly, larger-than-life figure high in the skies; she holds the different threads that guide and connect the characters, a visual theme used throughout the picture book.
Tongva illustrator Weshoyot Alvitre's majestic watercolor-and ink illustrations include small portraits bordered by white space and framed with the ever-present thread, as well as sweeping, double page-spread paintings with changing points of view. These choices, along with the ample use of white space, give the art an expansive feel, immersing readers in the movement of the wind that brings the pilot closer to home. The lovely earth tones give way to more verdant and vivid hues as the pacing climaxes with a close-up of the missing family member--the attachment they have with one another is undeniable and bleeds off the page. This is most evident when the exultant pilot prays for peace just as her waiting family prays for her safe delivery home. --Shelley Diaz, supervising librarian, BookOps: New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library