The Quilt Story is one of my favorite children's picture books, written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. I'm always attracted to a story about a quilt, and this is one of the loveliest, both for its gentle, poetic wording and its gentle, poetic illustrations.
It begins this way:
A little girl's mother
made the quilt
to keep her warm
when the snow came down
I think these words are proof that the simplest of words can carry the whole world in them. Tony Johnston is a master at taking the most ordinary of words and creating pure poetry from the way in which she puts them together.
Tomie dePaola does the same thing with his art. His drawings look so very deceptively simple, almost like children's art, not that there is anything simple about children's art! But he captures the essence of a thing in the most wonderful child-like way.
The little girl's name, Abigail, is stitched into the quilt in large letters. Abigail falls in love with the quilt. It not only keeps her warm, it becomes a part of her playtime, and a part of everything that means home to her. I love these words to describe her tea party in the woods:
She had tea.
Her dolls had tea.
And the quilt had tea
all over it.
Abigail and her family move. There is a long journey "across wide rivers and over a rock-hard trail." And all along the way, it is the quilt that keeps Abigail "warm from the wild winds."
There is a new house in a woods built by her father, "chop, chop, chop." And it is the quilt that makes Abigail feel at home in the new place.
Eventually the quilt ends up in the attic, forgotten. I love how this story requires children to think outside the pages. They do not see Abigail all grown up and gone away to a new life, but they must imagine that this is what has happened.
Ahhhhh, but the story does not end there. For there is a grey mouse who makes a home in the quilt. And then a raccoon. And then a cat.
(And don't you just love the expression on that cat?)
And then another little girl comes looking for the cat. She finds the quilt, her mother makes it all new again for her, they move, and once again, it is the quilt who helps a little girl feel at home in a new place.
Because this story takes a quilt from its beginnings and passes it on from one family to another family, I think it mirrors the true story of so many quilts. I often read in blogs how someone found a quilt in a thrift shop, and I think of how wonderful it is that the life story of that quilt goes on and on.
If you want to cozy-up in the warm-hearted story of a quilt, do please find a copy of The Quilt Story! And I hope your weekend is as warm-hearted as this story is. I hope you have your own quilt to wrap up in, to feel at home in. I'll be wrapped in mine (thank you, Helen, Treva, Tom, and Fenwick!)
We are expecting temperatures in the 20s again, so our snow ladies will be back in full force to keep our plants warm.
You keep warm, too!