Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Magic of a Quilt

The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrations by Gail de Marcken

There was an old woman who lived high in the mountains for as long as anyone could remember making quilts. Her quilts were so lovely that the rich would come from all over the world to buy one. But the old woman always responded that her quilts were not for sale, they were for the poor and needy and she would not sell one for any price. In the kingdom where she lived there was a greedy king who demanded presents at least four times a year from every person in the land. When he heard about the old woman he thought that he was still unhappy because he did not have one of her quilts, that is the gift that would make him happy at last. He demanded the old woman give him a quilt. She tells him that when he gives away all his possessions she will make him a quilt, one square for each present he gives away. King is distressed, he cannot imagine giving away his possessions, so he has the woman imprisoned. Later the king thinks better of it and does give away a single marble. The little boy he gave the marble to is so happy that the king decides to try and give something else away. After that the king learns to love to bring joy to others by giving gifts and he travels the world giving away his possessions. The old woman keeps her promise and after many years when the king returns home poor, but happy, she gives him his quilt which is more beautiful than any of the others.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I did judge it by the cover and thought that it was not going to be very good, but it was a great read. I read this online at the Children's Library and was a bit sad that I could not have the actual book in front of me to see the illustrations in all their glory but even on the computer screen you still get a lot from them. There is so much happening on every page that I would recommend that you not try to read this to a group larger than two people because it would be very difficult for everyone to see the pages and the little details the illustrator includes. The writing is very well done and before you know it you are sucked into this story. It is a bit longer than most picture books so I would recommend this for an older audience of four to seven year-olds. The message of this story is 'it is better to give than to receive' but it is told in such a way that I think children will respond to it and be able to grasp that message at whatever age. There is a little bit of magic in the book as well which adds to the storytelling and wonder of the quilts that the old woman creates. I think that boys or girls will really like this story and the characters of the old woman and the king. The old woman being a grandmother figure that everyone can relate to and love, and the king being a spoiled person who learns to think of others.

There is a website devoted to this series,, with some online resources for quilters and additional information about the book. I would love to learn to quilt, and it is on my list of things to do but I am a crocheter and have a hard time abandoning my yarn. Plus a sewing machine seems to be required and I do not have the space for that in my little apartment.


  1. This sounds like a really great read,I can see my older niece,Bailey,really enjoying this,my younger one is still not old enough at 3 but I can have it for next year for her,thank you for this review!!

  2. Sally,
    Thanks for the comment, and I am glad you like the review. I do think you nieces will like the story and I agree it might be a bit long for the three year old but you never know.


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