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Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (Reading Rainbow Books) Paperback – July 10, 1995


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Frequently Bought Together

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (Reading Rainbow Books) + Follow the Drinking Gourd (Dragonfly Books) + Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
Price for all three: $26.43

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Series: Reading Rainbow Books
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Kopf; 1 edition (July 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679874720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679874720
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A courageous slave girl plays an unusual part in the Underground Railroad; in a starred review, PW said, "This first-rate book is a triumph of the heart." Ages 5-10.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3-- Clara, a young slave, works as a seamstress and dreams of freedom. Overhearing drovers talk of escaping North enables her to make a patchwork map of the area. When she escapes, she leaves the quilt behind to guide others. Based on a true event, this is a well-written picture book. Ransome's oil paintings, however, are perhaps too smooth and rich for the story they tell. The world depicted is too bright, open, and clean. For example, in the first scene Clara has been put to work in the cotton fields. Supposedly too frail to last long at such work, she is pictured as a slim, serious, yet sturdy girl. The bright yellow sky and the charming smile of the boy with her belie the realities of the back-breaking work. In another scene, young Jack, who has been brought back the day before from running away, looks solemn, but not distressed, and is wearing what appears to be a freshly ironed white shirt. Again, the image distances viewers from the realities of the situation. Clara's escape to Canada, too, is marvelously easy, although she does say, "But not all are as lucky as we were, and most never can come." It is not easy to present the horrors of slavery to young children; thus, even though Ransome's illustrations, and to some extent the text, err on the side of caution, this is an inspiring story worth inclusion in most collections. --Karen James, Louisville Free Public Library, KY
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is as award-winning of picture books, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers. In 2013 she received a Robert F. Sibert Honor and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text twice, for A Band of Angels and Apples to Oregon. Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awardee. She lives near Portland, Oregon.

Deborah's most recent book, The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel was named a Best Book of 2013 by School Library Journal.

Visit her on the web at www.deborahhopkinson.com

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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If you like quilts you will find this book interesting.
drlighthouse
Clara makes a beautiful quilt in hopes that it will help her and others escape to freedom.
Stacy Shinovich
I used this to read aloud to my 8th grade American History students.
Kathy Turnball

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Shinovich on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This story is told through the eyes of a young slave named Clara. Clara was taken from her mama, so when she arrives at the new plantation a woman named Rachel befriends her. Aunt Rachel, as she becomes known, notices that Clara is not enjoying working in the cotton fields. Aunt Rachel teaches Clara how to sew and Clara eventually starts working in the Big House. While working in the Big House she pays close atttention to the others as they talk and describe the areas around the plantation. Clara secretly goes every night and works on the quilt made of the scraps from the Big House. Clara makes a beautiful quilt in hopes that it will help her and others escape to freedom. Read more to find out what happens to Clara and the others. The illustrations in this story showed how the people of that time period looked, dressed, and worked. Ransome's illustrations enhanced Hopkins' delightful story of Clara and the quilt. The author and illustrator accurately portray specific cultures and customs of the ethnic situation. Overall, this was a delightful story to add to any classroom discussion on the topic of freedom and slaves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt This wonderful book`` Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt'' was by Deborah Hopkinson. The Publisher is by Alfred A. Knope. The illustrator is James Ransome. There are 15 pages and the intended audience is 7-11 for kids to read.
Sweet Clara was a very brave girl. She really wants to get back to her mother. Sometimes I like to make quilts just like Clara. I like it when Clara starts making the freedom quilt.But I do not like it when Young Jack escapes too see Sweet Clara.
I did like the book ,because it was freeing the slaves.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By simp@livingston.net (Patsy Simpson) on February 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a fourth grade reading teacher in Texas I read SWEET CLARA to my students as a Texas "Bluebonnet Book". I found it to be an interesting, easily understood book, with a feeling of mystery. In other words, "I loved it!"
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Judith Miller VINE VOICE on November 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
I discovered SWEET CLARA AND THE FREEDOM QUILT when I was doing a little research into the Underground Railroad. It has been a long-standing theory that patchwork quilts were used to help the enslaved people to escape by the encoded messages in the quilt patterns. This story is another take-off on that traditional idea.

Clara, a slave girl under the age of twelve, was sent away from her mother to another plantation to work in the fields and pick cotton. She makes friends with Young Jack who sees that she's unhappy and not eating and advises her that she must eat to have the strength to be a field worker. Clara now shares a cabin with an older woman, who is kind to her and though unrelated, is called Aunt Rachel.

Aunt Rachel also sees that Clara may not be strong enough to be a field laborer, and over a period of time teaches Clara the art of sewing. Once she can learn to sew, she can work with Rachel at the Big House. Clara proves to be an apt pupil and eventually becomes a seamstress and goes to work for the mistress of the plantation.

The sewing room is next to the kitchen so that Clara meets a lot of people who move around the countryside. She also hears stories about the Underground Railroad, which is a group of people who help slaves to escape. As Clara listens to the people talking, she begins to question them about the surrounding land and decides to make a map out of sewing scraps. Eventually the quilt map is completed and Clara and Jack are ready to leave the plantation and go north to find the Ohio River, and head for Canada. Since Clara had memorized the quilt map, she left it behind so that others could use it too, and escape to the North.

The illustrations by James Ransome are excellent.
Read more ›
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Stout on March 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Deborah Hopkinson's use of dialogue in this story is what really recommends it to be read aloud. The characters come through the story so well through their words. They usually don't come right out and SAY anything, but instead communicate vital information in a round-about sort of way. They pretend not to have a care in the world, all the while desperately plotting against their captors.

This is book would be a great tool for opening up a discussion about why people say one thing when they really mean something else entirely. Also, this book is great for discussing ways of "escaping" authority and subverting roles of apparent compliance.

Sweet Clara deserves a place on the bookshelves of young revolutionaries worldwide.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book in our Cival War Unit in school. It was a wonderful book. I think that if you are looking at this book and thinking of bying it, do!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Sweet Clara's aunt teachers her how to sew and she makes a quilt. She and young Jack leave because they were slaves, but you are going to have to find out if they make it to freedom or not. I liked this book. It was very interesting and I learned about history. I think you will like it too.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jo Vasquez on March 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have read and reread Hidden in Plain View and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt and I have learned more than I ever knew about the slaves and the underground railroad. It is a shame that such great and informative books are not better known. I am 65 years old; I read a lot and I am a quilter.
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