Booklist Reviews

"In stirring free verse, a young African American girl in rural Gee s Bend, Alabama, describes how she learns from her "mama, grandma, and great-gran" to quilt, "using the old way— / all by hand / nothing wasted." As she plans her first project, she remembers her mama saying, "Cloth has memory," and she chooses swatches from loved ones clothing: the corduroy pants her uncle wore to vote for the first time; the dark blue work shirt that reminds her of "how hard Daddy has worked." She also sweeps through African American history and finds ways to honor her heroes: "I sew / a spotless white patch for / the hope Dr. Martin Luther King / brought." Cabrera is a quilter, and her folk-art paintings shine best in the dynamic re-creations of the beautiful fabric patterns, which have been exhibited in museums around the world. Both words and images glow with the love, creativity, and strength that are shared among the generations, and an author s note and an introduction by an art historian fill in more specifics about the rare community and its rich tradition." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Baby Girl is learning to quilt. She finds "the heart" of her quilt in the colors, fabrics, and, especially, the stories of women who gather to sew and sing and talk. Rich naif-style paintings in warm, deep hues bring the writing to life, reflecting its tone and spirit. An informative introduction and an author's note round out the book. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

The now-famous story of the Gee's Bend, Alabama, quilters, long-admired in the art and quilting community, will find a new, younger audience through this tale of one little girl sewing her first quilt. "Grandma says her quilts tell a story, / so mine will tell one, too. / My story." Baby Girl is learning to quilt from her mother, grandmother, aunts, and neighbors. As she searches through the scraps, she is "looking for the heart" of her quilt. She finds it in the colors and in the fabrics and, especially, in the stories of the generations of women who gather to sew and sing and talk. Rich na•f-style paintings in a warm, deep palette bring the poems to life and reflect their tone and spirit. McKissack detours a bit to tell about some of the icons and lesser-known martyrs of the Selma movement; while the history is fascinating, there are times when the more didactic poems interrupt Baby Girl's own story. However, it's marvelously clear that McKissack understands the creative pulse of the quilter and artist. An informative introduction by collector Matt Arnett and a more personal author's note round out the book. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

McKissack's series of poems tells the story of and honors the history of the women quilters of Gee's Bend, Ala. For years, these emancipated former slaves existed out of the mainstream before being "discovered" and celebrated for preserving a unique way of life. The women's quilts pay tribute to their lives' major events, such as registering to vote and marching with Martin Luther King Jr., and the process of quilting serves as a critical way to pass on to their children songs and family stories, and, of course, how to quilt. Baby Girl is at the center of the book, growing from a little one who plays on a quilt under the ladies' quilting frame to a girl who pieces together her own story and learns how to quilt it. Cabrera's vibrant paintings incorporate collage elements in both somber and vibrant colors that reflect struggles for freedom along with the collaborative warmth of quilting parties. An outstanding way to introduce aspects of African-American history and explore the power of community. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection

This book celebrates the history and uniqueness of Gee?s Bend, Alabama, by following a young girl?s journey of making a quilt of her own. Simple poetry tells the story of the women quilters. It tells the story of looking for the ?heart? of a quilt, using all the materials, wasting nothing, and celebrating in telling a story as Baby Girl learns to use her quilt to tell her story. It tells the story of colors and their meaning. It tells of the hope of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the story of blacks registering to vote, and the closing of the all-black school in town. It tells the story of the quilters being discovered in the 1960s. It tells the story of Baby Girl finishing her own quilt and becoming truly bonded to the women of Gee?s Bend. The beautifully drawn illustrations add a depth and warmth to this life-giving tale of perseverance, creativity, and love. Some of the actual handiwork has been depicted. The author?s note adds a personal touch, and brings full circle the rite of passage this community has incorporated into their quilt making. Highly Recommended. Karen Scott, Media Specialist, Thompson Middle School, Alabaster, Alabama ¬ 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 1–5—The rural Alabama community of Gee's Bend is widely recognized for its unique quilts. Although the women have been quilting for over a century, their work was unknown until art historian William Arnett discovered it about 20 years ago. Stitchin' and Pullin' is the modern-day story of Baby Girl, who grows from a child playing beneath her elders' quilting frame to becoming a member of the intergenerational circle, piecing together her first quilt. McKissack's free-verse narrative shares the rich heritage of the Gee's Bend artisans as Baby Girl selects the fabrics that have significance to her and her family and finds the "heart" of her quilt. She speaks about the meaning of colors and patterns and what they bring to a quilt. The story is full of love and spirit. Cabrera's acrylic paintings depict the richness of tradition and strength of character as connections are made between fabric and history. Readers will enjoy the slow cadence of verse as they pause to consider history through the eyes of the people who lived it and the legacy that is passed on to the next generation.—Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO

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