We've been making paper quilt blocks using Easy Literature-Based Quilts Around the Year(Cigrand and Howard), and we've found some lovely picture book treasures. The art is stunning and the stories are wonderful.
The Quiltmaker's Gift, Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken.
The Quiltmaker's Gift has been our hands-down favorite. This book will go in the Santa's book basket on Christmas morning. The gents simply cannot get enough of this book, and I love it too. The Quiltmaker's Gift is the beautiful story of a quiltmaker who gives her quilts only to the needy, and an unhappy king with too many things. When the king insists that the quiltmaker give him a quilt, she refuses then makes a bargain with the king: Give away all of your beautiful things, and I will make you a quilt with a patch for each gift you give to others. The illustrations are gorgeously detailed, perfect for poring over on a rainy afternoon. One of our favorite activities is looking at the front and back flaps of the books to find the names of the traditional quilt patches we see throughout the story, names like Flying Birds, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, Bear's Paw, King's Highway, Snail's Trail, Double Irish Chain, Lover's Knot. There's even a website: http://www.quiltmakersgift.com/ (The pattern for the Snail's Trail blocks pictured below, is in the right sidebar here.)
The Keeping Quilt, Patricia Polacco.
Anna comes to the United States from Russia with her family. When she outgrows the beloved dress and babushka that remind her of home, the women gather to make a quilt out of fabrics from a basket of old clothes, decorated with flowers and animals and bordered with Anna's beautiful red babushka. The quilt passes to the women in Anna's family from generation to generation, serving as a wedding huppah, welcoming the new babes, and warming the women in their old age. It's a lovely story of traditions, how they change and how they stay the same through the generations.
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Deborah Hopkinson, paintings by James Ransome.
Clara is a young slave, a seamstress. One day she hears of freedom to the north. From scraps and bits of fabric and information she begins to piece together a quilt, a map to freedom. "We went north, following the trail of the freedom quilt. All the things people told me about, all the tiny stitches I took, now I could see the real things. There was the old tree struck down by lightning, the winding road near the creek, the hunting path through the swamp." Eventually Clara reaches freedom, and she leaves the quilt she made behind so that others may have a map to the Underground Railroad to study. Based on a true story, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt is an inspiring story of perseverance and patience and freedom.
The Quilt Story, Tony Johnston, illustrated by Tomie dePaola.
A little girl's mother sews her a beautiful quilt. The beloved quilt is the little girl's treasure and comfort, especially when her family crosses the country in a covered wagon to a new home. Eventually the quilt is folded and packed away where it makes a comfortable nest for some animals until it is rediscovered by another little girl. She begs her mother to repair the quilt, and the quilt becomes a treasure and comfort for a new little girl as she moves to a new home. It's a beautiful story, lovely to read out loud and has beautiful illustrations.
The Quilt, Ann Jonas.
Sweet and simple, perfect for younger readers, a little girl's quilt becomes a fantastic landscape in her dreams.
A Cloak for the Dreamer, Aileen Friedman, illustrated by Kim Howard.
A Cloak for the Dreamer isn't a quilt book, but it does deal with the geometry of piecing together fabric. A Cloak for the Dreamer is the story of a tailor's three fine sons and the cloaks they make for the Archduke. The first son wishes to become a tailor like his father, and pieces together a beautiful cloak using rectangles. The second son also wishes to follow in his father's footsteps. He pieces together a beautiful cloak using squares, then because he's got so much time to spare, he makes a second cloak of triangles. The third son, the dreamer, longs to travel the world. He wants to please his father, and pieces together a beautiful cloak of circles, which he discovers upon its completion to be completely impractical because it will not keep out the wind and the rain. The story has a happy ending: The second son made an extra cloak, so the Archduke gets the cloaks he ordered, and the tailor and his older sons solve the problem of the circles to make a beautiful rainbow cloak for the youngest son to wear as he sets off around the world.