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Book Review: The Quilt Story (a children’s book about moving, meaning and memory!)

After Kate’s book review last week about the textiles of the arts & crafts movement, I feel a bit low brow with my selection for my review of the month – I’ve selected a children’s book about coping with a move. (Subtext painfully apparent?)

51XvUC3uUML._AA160_The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola is a sweet story with simple folk art illustrations – about a quilt that comforts several generations of girls through relocation. The choice of words and the spacing on the page makes this an excellent book for young/new readers, but it works well for pre-readers. The story sets up conversations about moving, meaning, and memory – depending on your intent. Through the illustrations it captures children’s attention by taking their perspective, and portraying imaginative uses of a much loved blanket. It engages with that tricky topic of feelings by delicately focusing on comfort – in a mothers hug, in the familiar, in a well loved blanket. I love this aspect. Not a surprise I suppose – I love patchwork quilts, comfort, and stories that celebrate either – let alone both!

I must note however, the book has a slightly somber tone. It isn’t flippant and sappy sentimental. It is actually a fairly sophisticated exploration of comfort, and how change can bring discomfort, and the familiar can help one through change – to happy times and the joy of newness. And throughout it remains a children’s book – that children understand, accept, and engage with. I think this is fairly exceptional, and this is a special book, which could be helpful to many a parent’s toolkit, or a lovely accompaniment to a quilt or blanket gift.

The Quilt Story is held in the Significant Seams Stitch & Craft Library and can be borrowed by members. It features from time to time in our “Stories & Sticking” series for toddlers and their adults. For more information check our current timetable at http://bookwhen.com/significantseams

Catherine West is the founder and chief executive of Significant Seams. You can follow her on Twitter at @SeamsSignif.


The Stitch & Craft Library is a central resource of hundreds of books and patterns that connect the East London crafting community, and is sponsored by Waterstones Walthamstow, and supported by Chapel End and Wood Street Ward Forums in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Members of E17 Designers, students at Waltham Forest College Fashion department, and residents of Chapel End and Wood Street Wards who are on ESA, job seekers allowance or in receipt of housing benefit are eligible for free membership.

Members of the Stitch and Craft Library receive 10% off books not already discounted from WaterstonesWalthamstow when they show their membership card.

Written by significantseams


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