Pros: A fun story, teaches the importance of tradition
My younger brother loves to read. Each year, I try to find a "different" book for his birthday. By "different" I mean a not-so-ordinary children's book...because he has so many of them! He loves the "Magic Tree House" series and any book on Disney, but I try to give him a book that had meaning and can teach him something new. This year, I gave him "The Keeping Quilt" by Patricia Polacco.
As I read the book quickly in Barnes and Noble, I almost put it down because I figured it was a "girl's book". Females are on the cover, in every picture, and are the main characters. But as I browsed the bookshelves, there was nothing like "The Keeping Quilt". All of the other books that I picked up were basically entertainment-type books that were funny and just great to read. But I really liked "The Keeping Quilt" and I had a hunch my brother would enjoy it too, so I bought it for $6.99.
The book is about a tradition in the author's life, a true story. "The Keeping Quilt" starts off with the life of Patricia Polacco's great grandmother, Anna, who just came over to American on a ship from Russia. It was hard to start a new life in a new place and leave everything back in Russia. To remind her of her homeland, everyone in the community decided to make a quilt out of outgrown clothes and old pieces of cloth. The border of the quilt was made of Anna's babushka, which she used to love to throw up in the air and dance with when she was back home.
The quilt was used on many different occasions and became very important to the family. Whether used as a tablecloth or a wedding huppa (a covering over the bride and groom), the quilt was extremely important to Anna. When Anna's daughter, Carle was born, she was first held wrapped up in the quilt. When Carle married, the quilt was used as a huppa for her wedding. Finally, Carle's daughter, Mary Ellen, had a child of her own, Patricia, who is the author. Patricia keeps the quilt now, but one day, she too will pass it on to her daughter Traci-Denise.
The book takes place over six different generations. It deals with tradition, sacrifice, family, love, and happiness. The reason why I like this book so much is because it is rare to find a true story about a family tradition as a children's book. So many traditions are lost now-a-days and for a tradition to keep strong and remain so significant within a family is truly amazing.
The book is 29 pages long. There are only a few lines on each page, and the book is relatively easy to read. There are a few words that a child may not understand, like babushka, huppa, and challah, which will require some explaining. However, you can basically figure out what the unfamiliar words mean by looking at the context of the sentence (and by looking at the pictures!).
Patricia Polacco is not only the author of this book, but the illustrator as well. The pictures in "The Keeping Quilt" are absolutely amazing. There is a picture on every single page. Each image is very detailed; there is shading on the people's faces and elaborately drawn patterns on everyone's dresses. However, the best feature of the pictures are the colors. Everything is drawn with a pencil and shaded with that same pencil. However, only the quilt is in color. On one of the first pages, only Anna's babushka was in color while everything else was black and white. I was really confused as to why tis was...what was so significant about the babushka? Then, I found that it was one of the materials used in the quilt. What a perfect way to demonstrate the importance and meaning built into the quilt. This also helps a child understand the importance of the quilt, since the quilt stands out on every page.
My little brother loves this book as much as I do. We both enjoy reading it together and we pick it up at least once a week to share. And I was wrong, never once did he think it was a "girl's book". So whether you are looking for a book for a boy or a girl, "The Keeping Quilt" us a great choice!