From School Library Journal
Grade 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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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. Grades 3-5. --Gillian Engberg