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I Lay My Stitches Down: Signed copy

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I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery

(Millbrook Press)

Author Cynthia Grady, Illustrated by Michele Wood: The Artist you have come to know

  • Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802853862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802853868
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.3 x 12 inch


    Kirkus - Starred review Enslaved African-Americans voice the weariness, drudgery, agony and dreams of their lives in a beautiful and informative collection of poetry and paintings.

    In her debut title, Grady structures free verse to mirror the patterns of traditional American quilt blocks, variations on a square. In the poems, each 10 lines with 10 syllables per line, the words and thoughts read seamlessly and build to heart-rending finales. They speak of daily lives made bearable by the words of a preacher, the joys of singing and the quiet rhythms of stitching. A woman bent over her basket of scraps can see her “troubles fall / away.” A man calming a horse can find a “patchwork field of freedom.” Children outside a school building scratch out the alphabet because “[i]t gives us hope; it sings us home.” Each poem is accompanied by brief background information on slavery and on the quilt-block pattern that inspired it. Full-page paintings by Wood, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner, pulsate with vibrant colors and intensity. Each incorporates the quilt pattern that served as Grady’s inspiration into a collage-style portrait. Readers will find themselves poring over the many details in the art and connecting them with the verses.

    A powerful grouping of thought-provoking poems and brilliantly designed paintings. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, bibliography) (Poetry. 10 & up)

    Washington Parent: In this stunning collection of 14 poems, local author and quilt maker Cynthia Grady conveys the hardships and hopes of enslaved African-Americans.  She gives each poem a 10-line, 10-syllable structure to “mimic the square shape of a quilt block,” and artist Michele Wood weaves specific quilt patterns into her depictions of the hard-working children, bereft parents, escaped slaves, horse trainers and musicians who voice the poems.  The result is breathtaking, with a poem’s powerful imagery often echoed in the accompanying stylized illustration.  For example, the “greedy wheels” of the overseer’s wagon and the grief of a father whose “baby girl” is being sold find visual expression in a picture as spare and heart wrenching as Picasso’s “Guernica.” -

    Horn Book - "Altogether, a stunning achievement . . . ."

    School Library Journal - Starred review   "This ambitious work offers a bit of poetry, history, folk art, quilting, religion and more. It will definitely fill a niche in libraries."