Friday, October 16, 2015

Sewing Stories - Harriet Powers' Journey from Slave to Artist #WNDB #PPBF

     If you had never been taught how to read or write, how would you share your stories?
    As a writer, this thought made my breath catch in my throat. I believe everyone feels a universal human need to share their thoughts and be heard. A new book (released October 13, 2015) tells the story of one woman who spoke with her needles and cloth.
Title: Sewing Stories- Harriet Powers'
Journey from Slave to Artist
Author: Barbara Herkert
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Publisher: Knopf, 2015
Intended age: 4-8
Themes: Biography, African American, Quiltmaking

First lines: "See that sweet baby girl lying on a quilt her mama made? What could she be dreaming of?
                    On a plantation near Athens, Georgia, Harriet's mama worked from rise to set while Harriet slept between the cotton rows."

Synopsis: Born into slavery, Harriet Powers' skills as a quiltmaker change her life.

Why I like this Book: This book reminds me of an excerpt of the Humans of New York, learning about a fascinating person who might not be well-known, and who certainly didn't set out to be well-known but nonetheless leaves a strong emotional connection with the reader.
     Especially at election time, I hear a lot of people talking about what they think. For me, what a person does is often a better indication of their character. And this book is about a doer. Someone who needed to survive. Someone who found a way to make beauty in difficult situations.
     The text uses lovely lyrical language. This line is my favorite: "Then Harriet explained each story sewn within the squares, like the lyrics of a song spun into cloth."
     Fun fact about me: When I was in high school I made a quilt from scraps of old clothing and leftover craft projects. I don't think it will hang in a museum like Harriet's work, but I am proud of it and it "talks" to me.


This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF
Note: I received a review copy from Random House in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thanks for stopping by! I love comments to know what you think of my selections.


  1. I love your choice today…. it hit a heart chord with me. Thanks for providing some great activities too!

    1. Thanks, Joanna. There are some "quiet" heroes out there.

  2. I love stories about people finding their voice in different ways. Telling stories in quilts and art... fantastic. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Sometimes, just living our lives, we make a difference. And that's really the heart of Harriet's story. :)

  3. Is that your quilt, Wendy? Cool! We need more stories about women doing what they love and using that to make a difference.

    1. My hidden talents are many, Julie (LOL). I had so many scraps I didn't want to throw out, but have to admit I used a sewing machine, not just needle and thread!

  4. Love the pic of your quilt Wendy. This is a beautiful story, very inspiring.

    1. Thanks, Diane. Finding a way to do art, and express yourself under those circumstances is uplifting indeed.

  5. What a great story -- reminds me a bit of my immigrant grandmother. She was a seamstress and ended up becoming a clothing designer. She never thought she had a talent. She sewed everything I wore for years.