Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Quilt Story


The Quilt Story

By:  Tony Johnston 
Pictures by:  Tomie dePaola
Published:  1985 Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers 

" A little girl's mother made the quilt to keep her warm when the snow came down, long ago."  

I myself have a military family and I have taught near military bases for the past 7 years.  I have seen many children uprooted from what they know many times and my own child will have to move several times in her young life.  This story is one that I think all military families should have and I will read to my little girl to help her understand that it is not where we are but the people around us and the memories that we make that make our home.  

The Quilt Story  is about a young girl, Abigail whose mother makes her a quilt.  She creates many memories with her quilt such as watching falling stars, tea parties in the woods, sleeping under it when she felt sick, hide and seek with her sisters, and creating gowns out of it.  It was well loved and tore sometimes but her mother always fixed it for her and the quilt always made her feel better.  

One day they had to move away, "across wide rivers and over a rock-hard trail."  

"The quilt went too."  Abigail felt sad at her new home with her new bed and even a new horse.  Everything was new but the quilt so her mother rocked her and tucked her in and Abigail "felt at home again under the quilt."  Abigail eventually out grew her quilt and it was put away.  Animals used it as their home for a while until many years went by and another little girl found it in the attic.  She asked her mother to make it like new and she patched it up.  This little girl also had to move away "across miles and miles of pavement and snaking grey highways."  She too had a new house "freshly cleaned freshly waxed, and freshly painted. White."  As they unpacked the little girl was sad everything smelled new and of boxes, "everything but the quilt."  Her mother rocked her and tucked her in "and she felt at home again under the quilt."

I love this story for many reasons.  Not only does it teach us that you can make your home anywhere but it also shows us something about traditions and the past.  The first little girl Abigail lived in a very different time period than the second one.  The words in the story explain this by telling us the had to build a new house and her father used a "hatchet" to build in the woods her new bed and new horse there is also "curly shavings covered the floor."  These are all tings that we would not encounter today if we moved.  The new little girl however packed all their stuff in boxes and their house was "freshly painted."  

The illustrations show us this different time more than the words.  Tomie dePaola uses his folk type illustrations to paint two different times.  He uses different clothes, transportation (horse and buggy), and the house illustrations.  Then he transports us through time by showing us cars and modern clothes- including a little girl that wears pants.  His style matches this book perfectly and gives it that Folk Art history feel.

As I have said in an earlier post, my grandmother taught me how to sew and with that came quilting.  I have several quilts that my great-grandmother made by hand and I treasure them.  They remind me of her every time I use them.  I think quilting is a tradition that was once very common but over the years has become less and less because they are very time consuming and in our world today it is much easier to just run out and buy one.  There is something though about putting your heart into a quilt and that is what we see from this story.  I hope to continue the tradition of quilting for my own children.  I have already started my daughter out with her first quilt that I made her to come home from the hospital and I hope she takes this quilt with her on our many journey's through life.  I hope it gives her comfort just as Abigail's quilt gave her and I hope that one day I will sit down and show her how to make her own so that she can continue this family tradition.  This book meant a lot to me and I am so glad I found it and it will have a permanent place on my daughters bookshelf.    

I also think this is a great book for the classroom library.  Quilts were used to tell stories and there is a lot of math involved when creating them.  They would be a great extension to not only history lessons but all areas of the classroom as well.

Check out this great website of Seabreeze Quilting Guild that takes books and makes the quilts come to life.

Quilting in the classroom?
Check these out...

Traveling Quilt Project


No comments:

Post a Comment