Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt
McKissack, Patricia C. 2008. STITCHIN’ AND PULLIN’: A GEE’S BEND QUILT. Ill. by Cozbi A. Cabrera. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375831638 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
Gee’s Bend, Alabama gained recent notoriety as a haven of African-American art. Most of the residents are descendants of slaves. Art collector Matt Arnett describes the artistic and traditional spirit of the people in an introduction to the story. McKissack’s free-verse narrative then tells the story of Baby Girl, who grows from playing under the quilting frame to producing her own quilt. As tradition dictates, Baby Girl struggles to make the patches of her own quilt represent her family, important social events, and the emotions she feels as she tries to make sense of it all.
Many of the original quilts from the Gee’s Bend collection have been adapted into the full-page painted illustrations. An author’s note at the end of the story gives further information about quilting and its role in many cultures. Like the results of Baby Girl’s hard work, the story’s symbolism, the community’s history, and the importance of art are pieced together into a wonderful product that children and adults will find very satisfying.
Gather a few “touchable” quilts for examination. Conduct an online tour of quilting sites to see more examples of quilts. Discuss the different colors, patterns, and textures of the fabrics, and ask why the quilter might have chosen to incorporate those pieces. Schedule members of a local quilt guild to show off their talents by talking about the history of quilting in your area, or by teaching youngsters to quilt a simple project.
Other picture books about quilting and heritage:
Flournoy, Valerie. THE PATCHWORK QUILT. ISBN 9780803700970
Hopkinson, Deborah. UNDER THE QUILT OF NIGHT. ISBN 9780689822278
Polacco, Patricia. THE KEEPING QUILT. ISBN 9780689844478
By Rebecca S. McKee