A captivating book that weaves together the stories of individuals, their struggles, and the healing power of art. This remarkable collection of poetry and quilts explores themes of resilience, hope, and the transformative nature of creativity. Get ready to be moved and inspired.
• Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) Nonfiction Honor List • Bank Street College Best Children’s Books • NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books • PEN Steven Kroll Award Shortlist • Kirkus Reviews (starred) • School Library Journal (starred)
This rich and intricate collection of poems chronicles the various experiences of enslaved people in the United States. Named for traditional quilt block patterns like Log Cabin, Cotton Boll, and Schoolhouse, each poem—ten lines of ten syllables each—mimics the square shape of a quilt block. Readers experience slavery in America through fourteen different perspectives, including a woman humming “Gilead” as she quilts, a mother losing her daughter to the auction, a child discovering the freedom of learning, and a young man fleeing on the Underground Railroad. Brought to life by vivid, expressive artwork from Michele Wood, this stirring and eloquent book offers a timeless witness to the hardship endured by enslaved men, women, and children. Each poem is supplemented by historical information and notes on quilting, musical, and spiritual references in the text.
The finds of archaeologists beneath dilapidated cabins down the hill:
some chicken bones, the skins and skulls of coons and squirrels — hard remains of suppers stalked by moonlight, faith, starvation. Caches, too, of divination: sea shells, broken beads, and bundled roots suggest how slaves survived a knotted life of cornmeal, cruelty, death.
The dig won’t yield the stolen, lost, withheld: shoes, safety, drums, dignity, daughters, sons.
I need the music of my forebears from Afrik, but take the mending to my lap and work beside the Missus’ chair. A spell of quiet sewing, restful breath — it soothe my soul, dangling by a thread that been spun like cotton fiber grown and pinched on this hell place. Before I know, I’m rocking with the rhythm of the stitching, humming low the melody of “Gilead.” A balm for hunger, sorrow, heartache, yes, he is.
Written by Cynthia Grady
Illustrated by Michele Wood
Ages 10 & up
Full-color illustrations throughout
PAPERBACK; Coming Soon: 8/8/2023
A moving, memorable poetry collection shaped around the stories of enslaved people in America.