Review: The Keeping Quilt
Ancestry or genealogy.com could not replicate with a simple or even intricate family tree on paper the history, love or traditions depicted on this unique and everlasting quilt created by one young girl’s mother to keep her homeland in her heart and always present.
The Keeping Quilt by author Patricia Polacco reminds us of how important it is to keep our heritage and traditions. Immigrants come to America as Anna and her family did from Russia to have a better life. But, all too often they lose sight of their roots, their origins and their language. But, not Anna’s family as her mother took one outgrown dress, one brightly colored babushka, (my grandmother had one too) which would create her family’s timeline or heritage that would never fade or disappear. The love for their mother country, Russia, would forever be told in this quilt.
One brightly colored blue dress, one babushka, one uncle’s shirt, an aunt’s nightdress and Aunt Natasha’s apron be the building blocks or pieces that would create this amazing family’s history on a quilt. Anna was excited about this and her mother invited all of the neighborhood ladies to cut out their own special pattern of an animal or flower from pieces of clothing to be sewn in the body of the quilt. Imagine the variety of the pictures, the colorful flowers that you can smell just by looking at how the bright and vivid colors, the individually handmade animals which were all carefully woven and sewn with Anna’s scarf or babushka used as the frame or border.
When the quilt was completed the family used it as a Sabbath tablecloth. This brings back memories growing up and going to Sabbath services and joining my grandparents for Friday night dinners. My grandfather came to America and sold apples on a street corner before opening up a Laundromat and then a cleaning store. Family traditions are so special and so important even today.
Then, Anna met and fell in love with Great-Grandpa Sasha who would become her husband and the father of her children. The Huppa, the family’s dress, the weeding tradition all so vividly and beautifully illustrated in these life-like drawings. The use of black and white for the characters and the action in the story helps to bring out the importance of the quilt that is drawn in color. Used as the canopy or Huppa during a wedding, the quilt helps to unite many young couples. Next, Grandma Carle was born and the quilt became her receiving blanket. Presenting her with many special gifts in order to make sure she would never go hungry, have taste in her life, wealth and love.
Replete with family traditions, real life experiences and told in the author’s own voice, The Keeping Quilt will entertain children and adults for generations to come.
As Anna grows older and ill the quilt brought her great comfort as a blanket to keep her warm. But, tragedy strikes, the author’s mother now grown up and it is her time to leave and take the quilt with her to start her new life. Showing the Jewish wedding, the Huppa and the quilt welcoming the young couple under it helps you to understand the importance traditions hold for our author and her family. This beautiful quilt even welcomed her into this world. But, there is so much more that you need to learn and read about for yourself. The history behind the quilt, which created each piece, the many ways the family used it and still uses it will endear you to not only the author but the story too. Imagine the stories that she created in her own mind when she used the quilt as a tent.
Where is the quilt right now? How many others were greeted into he world with this special heirloom? The story like a legend was passed down from generation to generation, as was the quilt. “ The Keeping Quilt, a story told by one mother to her grand children and passed down from one generation to another. The Keeping Quilt: Keeping History: Keeping Traditions: Keeping Love!
Author Patricia’s stories will never grow old and always remain new to young readers as educators, such as myself, read her books out loud to their students and discuss her stories and create their own quilts and history. Family trees are on paper and cannot possibly tell the story of a family’s love as well as Anna’s mother did with this quilt.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
I give this book: FIVE BRIGHTLY COLORED Babushka’s to keep the tradition going.