Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt ~ by Patricia C. McKissack, 2008

Synopsis of the book:  "Mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, aunt and niece, friend and friend. For a hundred years, generations of women from Gee’s Bend have quilted together, sharing stories, trading recipes, singing hymns—all the while stitchin’ and pullin’ thread through cloth. Every day Baby Girl listens, watches, and waits, until she’s called to sit at the quilting frame. Piece by piece, she puzzles her quilt together—telling not just her story, but the story of her family, the story of Gee’s Bend, and the story of her ancestors’ struggle for freedom."

How does a young African American girl piecing together her first quilt relate to the Women Unbound reading challenge?   Quilting is almost exclusively something that women do.  Baby Girl first remembers sitting in a cozy place below the quilt, listening to the women talk.  She learns that making a quilt is like piecing together lots of stories, made up of the material from things worn or used by those who came before her.  The day finally comes when she is called to take her place at the quilting frame and has to decide what piece will be the heart of her quilt, and why.  The women help her put her quilt together because quilting is all about "an old, old process, / women stitchin' and pullin' / together."  Here's my favorite page of this children's picture book:
Beneath the Quilting Frame

Baby Girl – that's me – played
beneath the quilting frame
on a "Nine Patch" quilt
my great-great-grandmother
and her sisters made
when Great-Gran
was herself Baby Girl.
I remember
the warm brown faces
of my mama, grandma, and great-gran
as they sewed, talked, sang, and laughed
above my tented playground.
All the while, steady fingers
pieced together colorful scraps
of familiar cloth
into something
more lovely
than anything they had been before.
Oh, how I remember . . .
I remember Mama's gentle voice
singing softly,
lulling her Baby Girl to sleep.
Rated: 7 of 10, a good book.

1 comment:

Beth said...

What a lovely excerpt from the book, Bonnie! So poetic, and the rhythm is soothing. Nice review.