SEWING STORIES by Barbara Herkert

SEWING STORIES

Harriet Powers' Journey from Slave to Artist
Age Range: 5 - 8
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The story of a little-known historical figure whose life was sewn together with quilts.

Harriet Powers, born a slave near Athens, Georgia, grew up surrounded by textile arts: carding, dyeing, and weaving cloth and sewing and stuffing batting into quilts. The women and girls in her family taught her these arts at an early age, and she promised one day to “sew a magic world.” After she married and had children, the Civil War came and went, leaving her large family with no livelihood. Harriet picked up her needle and began to turn nothing into something…something that she loved but sold to feed her family. Though Harriet sewed only two story quilts in her lifetime, their uniqueness and intricacy have made them museum-worthy; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston now house these works of art. Each of the 11 panels in the “Bible” quilt and the 15 in the “Pictorial” quilt contain a story from the Bible or from history. Punctuating Herkert’s narrative of Powers’ life are informative historical tidbits imposed onto small, frayed swatches of fabric. Brantley-Newton’s airy, colorful mixed-media illustrations include a wonderful array of fabrics with different designs and textures, and the skin tones of the black characters depict a realistically diverse range. Unsourced dialogue makes the book problematic as nonfiction, but as a picture-book introduction to an unsung artist, it inspires.

Harriet Powers: an artist worth knowing. (author’s notes, bibliography, quilt explanations) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-385-75462-0
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2015




MORE BY VANESSA BRANTLEY-NEWTON

ChildrenMARY HAD A LITTLE GLAM by Tammi Sauer
by Tammi Sauer
ChildrenA BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON by Ramin Ganeshram
by Ramin Ganeshram
ChildrenTHE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU by Amy Parker
by Amy Parker

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenTHE PATCHWORK PATH by Bettye Stroud
by Bettye Stroud
ChildrenSWEET CLARA AND THE FREEDOM QUILT by Deborah Hopkinson
by Deborah Hopkinson
ChildrenQUILT ALPHABET by Lesa Cline-Ransome
by Lesa Cline-Ransome