Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 04/01/2017 Gr 6 Up—A quilt "represents safekeeping, it represents beauty, and you could say it represents family history." In this handsomely designed volume, Rubin shares the history of the Gee's Bend families, who, for more than 100 years, have been designing and creating bold and brilliant quilts. From 1845, when plantation owner Mark Pettway and his household settled in Alabama, to the present, African American women in this rural village have been piecing together scraps of fabric salvaged from old clothes, flour sacks, or corduroy pillow covers, while their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters have watched and learned. Through the years, as they endured and eventually rose above abject poverty, back-breaking work, and inequality, the women continually found community in picking up their needles to help one another sew quilts to keep their families warm. As they witnessed tumultuous moments in history, from the Civil War and the Great Depression to the civil rights movement, the quilters were eventually recognized for their artistry by the outside world. Rubin captures the voices of the inhabitants of Gee's Bend, weaving quotes and memories of current residents throughout the engaging narrative. Vibrant photos of the most striking quilts and archival images complement the text. In the spirit of passing on the tradition, simple instructions for making a quilt square appear at the end of the book. VERDICT Combining history, memoir, and quilting, this fascinating portrait of an indomitable community will appeal to readers, artists, and crafters of all ages.—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/15/2017 *Starred Review* Transporting readers to rural Gee’s Bend, Alabama, this handsome volume celebrates a deep-rooted, local needlework tradition by looking at individual quilt makers and their work, while tracing the history of this small, African American community. The ancestors of current residents were brought to the area in 1845 to work as slaves. Later, they became tenant farmers with little hope of owning their own land. Rubin’s account of their history continues with changes brought about by the New Deal, inspiration and determination that arose during the civil rights era, the formation of a sewing cooperative during the 1960s, and the quilts’ recognition by the national arts community after a 2002 museum exhibition. Writing with awareness of broad social forces as they affected the residents of Gee’s Bend, Rubin offers a concise account of local history while seamlessly weaving quilters’ reminiscences of family, community, poverty, and memorable events into an informative narrative. The spacious pages of this well-designed book create a fitting showcase for photos of the vivid, unusual Gee’s Bend quilts. Young readers inspired to try their hand at quilt making will find, in the back matter, simple directions for creating a hand-sewn quilt square. A colorful introduction to a uniquely American subject. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.