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PAPA AND THE PIONEER QUILT by Jean Van Leeuwen Kirkus Star


by Jean Van Leeuwen & illustrated by Rebecca Bond

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2007
ISBN: 0-8037-3028-4
Publisher: Dial

Rebecca’s Papa has wandering feet. In the spring when he and the family set out for Oregon by wagon train, she doesn’t want to leave their Missouri farm, but her Mama said, “It’s his dream, we have to go.” Rebecca’s feet feel worn out before they even get to Kansas. A new bride, who often walks with Rebecca, carries a copper kettle filled with fabric scraps she’s saving for a quilt. As she shares the story of each fragment, Rebecca is inspired to collect her own pieces. Her first is her Grandma’s tear-stained handkerchief; next is a piece of Papa’s shirt from the time when he almost drowned in a river, then a friend’s sunbonnet. After the six-month trek, the last piece in Rebecca’s string bag is a piece of the dress she had worn every day of the arduous journey. Once settled in Oregon, her mother helps her sew the quilt in the “Wandering Foot” pattern. The quilt device is a nimble way of stitching together the episodes and human hardships of those who ventured west. Soft-edged acrylic illustrations convey a gentle perspective of the difficulties with the warm palette reflecting the courageous spirit of the pioneer family. (author’s note) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-8)