Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE LOG CABIN QUILT by Ellen Howard

THE LOG CABIN QUILT

By Ellen Howard (Author) , Ronald Himler (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1996
ISBN: 0-8234-1247-4
Publisher: Holiday House

 An atmosphere of restrained grief and quiet struggle suffuses this almost inspirational story from Howard (A Different Kind of Courage, p. 170, etc.) that draws on the experiences of 19th- century pioneers. The story opens as Elvirey's family--grandmother, father, sister, and brother--buries her mother and leaves Carolina by wagon for Michigan. Their father is against bringing along Mam's things- -``There ain't no room for suchlike,'' Pap says. Granny defiantly brings along a bag of quilting scraps, saying, ``I aim to set on it.'' After a long trip west, they clear the land and build a log cabin, but it never feels like home. One cold fall day Pap leaves them all to go hunting. Night falls and the cabin grows colder and lonelier. As the moss and dirt between the logs freeze and fall out, Elvirey chinks the walls with fabric scraps, making the ``log cabin quilt'' of the title. Pap, on his return, says, ``Your mam would be proud. The place is downright homey.'' Elvirey observes that it isn't the scraps but ``Mam's name said out loud'' that makes the cabin home. Himler's soft pencil and watercolor paintings show unusual grace and are most affecting in the spot illustrations and exterior scenes. The interiors are darker, and quite accurately, muddier. This meditation on a small triumph over loss will add humanity to school units on the pioneers. (Picture book. 5-9)