Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My List of Children's Books about Quilts & Quilting (Part 1)

I've realized that I have a "thing" for children's books that feature quilts and/or quilting.  I seem to have amassed a small collection of these types of books -- most of them purchased before I even had children!  I guess I used the excuse of being a teacher to make some of these purchases, since you can never have enough books in your classroom.

Anyway, I thought it might be a nice idea to compile a list of the titles we own and then add to it as I discover more titles along these lines.  So, here goes....

I absolutely MUST begin this list with The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Fluornoy, for this is the book that really started it all for me.  It was after viewing an episode of the PBS show "Reading Rainbow," featuring this book, that I became interested in making quilts.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The Patchwork Quilt is a beautiful story about a little girl who loves listening to her grandmother as she pieces a patchwork quilt made of fabric scraps from every member of their family.  The little girl learns how to sew the patches onto the quilt too, and when her grandmother becomes too ill to work on the quilt, the little girl and her mother finish it.  It is a wonderful story, not just about quilting, but about the love within a family.  As well as being featured on "Reading Rainbow," this book was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.

Patricia Polacco's The Keeping Quilt is the next book in our collection.  As with most of her work, this is a story rich in family tradition and accompanied by Polacco's signature artwork.  It is the story of a quilt made by Patricia's great-great-grandmother and passed down through her family for almost a century.  

Throughout the story, one generation after another uses the quilt to mark special events in their lives.  The quilt is used as a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket to welcome each new baby into the family.  Patricia Polacco's The Keeping Quilt is "a heartwarming story of one family's special symbol of enduring love and faith."

The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau is a "charming fable for our times that celebrates the joy of giving."  It is the story of a generous quilter who gives away all of her quilts to the poor and needy.  An angry and greedy king decides that HE would like one of her quilts, but the quiltmaker will only agree under one condition -- he must give away all of his worldly possessions.  He must, himself, become poor before she will make a quilt for him.  After many attempts to change her mind, the king finally relents and begins to give away his beloved things.  With each gift he gives, he becomes more and more happy.  Finally, when he has nothing left to give away, the quiltmaker presents him with his quilt.

The artwork in this book (done by Gail de Marcken) is incredibly detailed, stunning, and a visual inspiration!

The Quilt Story by Tony Johnson with illustrations by Tomie dePaola is the next book in our collection.  This is a cute story about two little girls -- one from pioneer days and the other from modern times, who share the same quilt.  

The story begins with a pioneer mother sewing a quilt for her young daughter.  The girl's name, Abigail, is sewn into the quilt.  The little girl loves the quilt and it is a great comfort to her during times of sickness and especially after a move across the prairie.  After a time, the quilt becomes forgotten until it is found again, mouse-eaten and torn, in an attic by another little girl -- presumably a distant relative of the first little girl.  She takes the quilt to her mother who mends the quilt for her.  Just like the girl from pioneer days, the modern girl has to move to a new place.  The quilt brings her a sense of comfort during a time when she feels sad and helps her adjust to her new home.  

This book has a lot less text than the previous three books I have shared, so is a good choice for reading to younger children who may not be able to sit and listen for a longer story.

My final book for this blog post is Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson with paintings by James Ransome.  Another featured "Reading Rainbow" title, this book is about a 12-year-old slave girl who wants desperately to reunite with her mother and find her way to freedom.  With the help of her "aunt" she goes from working in the fields to working in the Big House as a seamstress.  

Working in the Big House allows Clara opportunities to overhear discussions about the Underground Railroad.  She soon gets the idea to begin stitching a map to freedom in a quilt which is made of scraps she salvages from her work in the Big House.  Eventually, Clara makes her way to her mother and to freedom.  However, the quilt is left behind with her "aunt" in the slave quarters on the plantation and used by many others who have heard of the quilt and its map to freedom.

Well, we have more titles, but they'll have to wait for another day....


Click here for my follow-up blog post Part 2.

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