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Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (Reading Rainbow Books) Hardcover – July 1, 1995

4.6 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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$16.03 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (Reading Rainbow Books)
  • +
  • Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
  • +
  • Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Caldecott Honor Book)
Total price: $41.78
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A compelling story about an African American girl's escape from slavery on a Southern plantation brings power and substance to this noteworthy picture book. When the rigors of cotton-field labor overwhelm Clara, a kindly woman she calls Aunt Rachel trains the girl to be a seamstress in the main house. Like most slaves, Clara longs for freedom and, in her case, yearns to be reunited with her mother. Becoming proficient in her sewing, she begins in her off hours to put together a map-quilt, stitching in any information she can glean from overheard conversations about an escape route to Canada. Clara is indeed reunited with her mother ("her eyes just like I remembered, her arms strong around me") in a chronicle made all the more touching for being rooted in fact. (The concluding flashback, a denouement explaining how the quilt may help others only slightly interrupts the fluid narrative line.) Ransome's ( Aunt Flossie's Hats . . . And Crab Cakes Later ) paintings here are among his finest: more lifelike and accessible than in some earlier books, the full-page, borderless oils exude an extraordinary warmth and humanity that lend credibility to the story. Himself a descendent of plantation slaves, the artist brings both dignity and realism to his work. This first-rate book is a triumph of the heart. Ages 5-10.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 680 (What's this?)
  • Series: Reading Rainbow Books
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning (July 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0780758773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0780758773
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.3 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,409,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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.
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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition
A great book of limited hope and surviving. The book is toned down to where a preschooler will mostly understand but not see the harsh realities. The clothing of all the characters, with one exception, all seems new, in perfect condition and clean. The book does lightly touch on families ripped apart. It used the word beating instead of whipping. The story ends with the first portion of the journey to freedom. It is a very good book but softened to the point of minimal expression of pain and humiliation. Young Jack was caught after running away. The description of his punishment, he didn't smile the way he used to.
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Format: Paperback
This was a child's book but it touched my heart, I don't know if I could read it outloud to my children without crying.

A young girl is separated from her Momma to be a cotton picker-field worker. But the older woman slave started caring for her and eventually taught her to sew, being patient with her due to her sore swollen hands. She eventually was able to get Clara into the 'Big House' as a seamstress. As Clara listened to all the coming and goings she picked up on what the Underground Railroad was and eventually thought to made a 'map' that was a quilt. That to someone that didn't know what it was was just a pretty quilt. But it was a map to the house for the Underground Railroad. She and another young slave was able to escape but she did not want to take the quilt due to the bad memories it would bring to her. But she left it behind and many, many peple would stop in and remember the map that Clara made...

wonderful story
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