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The Picture-Book Club > March 2016: Books Featuring Crafts (Discuss Club Reads Here)

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message 1: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 22, 2016 07:42AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5945 comments Mod
The votes are in. Here are the books we will read together in March:

I Had a Favorite Dress
Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends
Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
Chicken Sunday
Fiona's Lace

We don't have a great deal of diversity in style of crafts--the votes came in heavily toward sewing/clothing-based crafts and we had two Patricia Polacco books in the top--but I think it looks like a wonderful line-up. For those celebrating Easter and/or St. Patrick's Day in March, the Polacco books are especially apt!

I look forward to our discussion!


message 2: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 25, 2016 01:15PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Chicken Sunday

This picture book by Patricia Polacco is again an absolute gem. Another (autobiographical) story, it is a glowing and wonderful tale of friendship, understanding, sensitivity, forgiveness, creative craftmanship (and so much more). It is a story to make you smile, to make you cry and to make you feel hungry (and not necessarily for Miss Eula's chicken suppers, but more for the friendship, the love and the easy acceptance of different cultures and religions).

I really appreciate how the friendship between the narrator (the author as a child) and Stewart and Winston is shown as something "natural" and beautiful, that it is not made to seem exotic, strange or even all that "remarkable" because it is intercultural and interracial (it is just there, and it is a natural, and beautifully natural thing). I find that sometimes, and perhaps even rather often, books that emphasise the supposed, the so-called exotic and remarkable nature of interracial and intercultural friendships can seem somewhat negative to me personally, because friendship is friendship (or should be), and it really does not matter and should not matter if one's friend is of another culture, religion etc. This is avoided here. The friendship is just a beautiful friendship, the fact that it is an intercultural and interracial friendship makes no difference whatsoever.

This story is, of course, also somewhat of an Easter story, but it is really not primarily a story about Easter, or religion, it is primarily a story about friendship (both the friendship between the three children, but also the developing friendship between the children and Mr. Kodinski).

This tale is, naturally, also a poignant story about courage, about being brave and doing the "right thing." The three children did not throw eggs at Mr. Kodinski's shop, but because he thought they did, he now basically believes that they are part of the bigoted bullies who had been hurling eggs (and other forms of abuse) at him. Going back to his store to not only win him over, but to then ask him for a job, took courage (Mr. Kodinski calls it chutzpah). But of course, it is the home-made pysanky eggs that actually win him over, that actually serve as cementing or beginning to cement his friendship with the three children. Mr. Kodsinki is also a born merchant and I really love and appreciate how he (although he does not have the money to hire the narrator and her two friends) finds a way for them to make money. Of course, the best part of the story still was and is when Mr. Kodinski gives them the special Easter hat for Miss Eula, how the three children are able to keep their money, but most importantly, how they will now be able to make Miss Eula happy (and thank her for her wonderful and soul-warming chicken suppers), and how Mr. Kodinski is now a friend as well, a good friend who appreciates and likes them. Reading between the lines, you can tell that Miss Eula, while happy about her new Easter hat, is more happy about the thought behind this special gift and the effort the children had to make to obtain it.

The illustrations are again outstanding, and although by themselves, I would not necessarily call them personal favourites, they work wonderfully with the story, the narrative, providing a perfect mirror to and of the text. In fact, the illustrations also go above and beyond the narrative, as two of the illustrations show that Mr. Kodinski is a concentration camp survivor, not only adding to the poignancy of the story itself, but also opening the door for further discussion, especially if reading this book with and to slightly older children. I strongly, no I very strongly recommend Chicken Sunday and I only wish that Patricia Polacco had also included instructions on how to make pysanky eggs in the book; this could be a perfect class project (and one would not even have to use real eggs, as wooden pysanky eggs would perhaps be an even better project because the "eggs" would last and not spoil).

While rereading the book for this month's craft theme, I paid a bit more attention to the making, the crafting of the Ukrainian style Easter eggs, and while Polacco does not actually provide a detailed how-to analysis and demonstration of the same, she does at least show the general method pysanky eggs are made (making designs on the egg shells with hot wax, then dyeing them and finally melting the wax patterns off to reveal the dyed patterns). It still does not, in my opinion, take the place of a how-to section at the back of the book, but it does provide enough detail (helped by there author's colourful illustrations) to demonstrate the basic method for crafting, for creating Ukrainian style pysanky eggs.


message 3: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte_riggle) | 93 comments I absolutely adore Chicken Sunday, too. I'll come back and say more about it in another post. But for now, I thought I'd just share this l ink to instructions for making pysanky eggs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL...

And at the end of this episode of Reading Rainbow featuring Rechenka's Eggs, you can see Patricia Polacco making pysanky eggs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiVhF...

She makes it look easy. I've tried to make a pysanky egg before. I didn't find it easy at all!


message 4: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "I absolutely adore Chicken Sunday, too. I'll come back and say more about it in another post. But for now, I thought I'd just share this l ink to instructions for making pysanky eggs: https://www.y..."

I did not find it easy as well the one time I tried it, and my patterns certainly looked nothing like the wonderful patterns featured in the illustrations of Chicken Sunday.


message 5: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 26, 2016 06:04AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
For those who have already read A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat (I am still waiting for my library copy), are you also aware of the fact that there has been rather a lot of controversy with regard to how the one African American family on the plantation is portrayed? Do you believe that the narrative and/or the illustrations in any way trivialise slavery and make it seem less problematic than it historically was? Both author and illustrator have been facing quite a lot of criticism, and it would be both interesting and I think important to discuss and analyse this in depth.


message 6: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Gundula wrote: "For those who have already read A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat (I am still waiting for my library copy), are you also aware of the fact that ther..."

I do remember that one of the families represented was a slave family. I seem to recall that there is an author/illustrator note that briefly mentions the use of slaves and talks about further conversations/questions you may ask older children. I don't remember it being a big deal either way, I personally don't feel that it was offensive in any way. It was simply a matter of fact, in the 1800s, that rich families would have had slaves to do their cooking. I don't have the book right now, but I remember feeling like the author/illustrator wanted to present several different eras cooking the same dessert. The book was more about how the food can remain the same (and yummy) while technology and families may change. I think that the slavery issue would have been outside the scope of the book. But I do agree that there probably should have been a more detailed author's note.


message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael Fitzgerald | 367 comments Oh, but these slaves are shown as being happy while they enjoy that secret moment together. In the lockstep world of groupthink, no slave can ever be depicted as happy.


message 8: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 26, 2016 06:38PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Oh, but these slaves are shown as being happy while they enjoy that secret moment together. In the lockstep world of groupthink, no slave can ever be depicted as happy."

Well, maybe they should not have been depicted as smiling so broadly. You should at least respect that these illustrations might be considered offensive to some. People do have different levels of what they might consider offensive. Thus, some if not many Native Americans and Native Canadians find images, illustrations, depictions of non Native Americans playing "Indian" offensive, just like some African Americans consider the mere concept of happy and smiling slaves offensive. I, for example, cringe at badly spelled German language words in English language children's literature, and find it kind of problematic that sometimes, German characters seem to be either villains or buffoons (maybe not as common now, but it does still happen).


message 9: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5945 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "I absolutely adore Chicken Sunday, too. I'll come back and say more about it in another post. But for now, I thought I'd just share this l ink to instructions for making pysanky eggs: https://www.y..."

Thank you for the link to the instructions and video, Charlotte! I'm not sure if I'll have the time to try pysanky eggs this year but it's certainly interesting to me... maybe someday!

Chicken Sunday is the only book in the group I've read before and it's a five-star gem for me, too. Here's my original review:

Wow! This is a stunning story that brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful and touching. In an understated, gentle way it brings to light the evils of prejudice, the loveliness of kindness, the rewards of entrepreneurship, the joy of selflessness... The sub-story with Mr. Kodinski is so powerful in the subtle way its told--I felt pierced right through when I got to the illustration that reveals the tattooed numbers on his arm (i.e., from a concentration camp) he is handing the children a gift. Children need not necessarily know what this means, but as an adult I was really moved with how this fit into the greater story being told. A stunning tale for Easter, or any day!


message 10: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5945 comments Mod
I'm disappointed that I won't be able to read a few of the books (Fiona's Lace has been on my list for awhile!) but my library doesn't have them and ILL costs money so I'll have to hold off. We have a good collection of Polacco so I'm hoping I'll get to meet Fiona sooner or later, though Lady Hahn and Selina may have to remain strangers. I'll look forward to members' comments on those.

I can't speak to the controversy about the "Fine Dessert" illustrations yet but hope it will come in by the end of the month--it's checked out right now but I've got a hold on it.


message 11: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5945 comments Mod
If anyone makes the crafts depicted in these books and you know how to post photos in your comments, I think it would be really fun to share with the group! I know I, personally, would love to see them! :-)


message 12: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 27, 2016 08:59AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "I'm disappointed that I won't be able to read a few of the books (Fiona's Lace has been on my list for awhile!) but my library doesn't have them and ILL costs money so I'll have to ..."

When I am done with Selina and its sequel, send me your address again so that I can mail them to you (p.m. me), if you would like to read theses books, that is.


message 13: by Charlotte (last edited Feb 27, 2016 07:12AM) (new)

Charlotte (charlotte_riggle) | 93 comments A Fine Dessert is a lovely book, interesting, informative, just wonderful in so many ways. And it is tone-deaf on the subject of slavery. The most compelling review of it I read, by an African American who was, if I remember correctly, a professor of American history, said that the scene with the mother and child hiding in the closet was deeply problematic. If the house slaves at that home were allowed to eat the leftovers from the master's table, then the two of them would not have had to hide. If the house slaves were not allowed to eat the leftovers from the master's table, they'd have been risking a (very literal) beating, or worse. So the idea that a mother and child would have hid to eat the leftover blackberry fool was, in that person's view, extremely problematic.

It wasn't just that they were depicted as smiling. It was that they were depicted in a way that was fundamentally dishonest.

Furthermore, this book is part of the problem with the way blacks show up in children's literature in general, which is really similar to the problem with the way Native Americans show up in children's literature in general. WE see them only rarely, and then only in a very limited number of roles, so that the picture that is created is false.

Even if you decided that A Fine Dessert could be forgiven the scene in the closet, it's part of a pattern that is harmful to children.


message 14: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte_riggle) | 93 comments Debbie Reese's heavily annotated review, with links to many other reviews and discussions, is, I think, sort of a must-read for discussing A Fine Dessert. http://americanindiansinchildrenslite...

And this essay, on the importance of representation for people in minority communities, is particularly compelling, at least to me. http://www.hbook.com/2013/08/opinion/...


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "A Fine Dessert is a lovely book, interesting, informative, just wonderful in so many ways. And it is tone-deaf on the subject of slavery. The most compelling review of it I read, by an African Amer..."

Very good points, all! I have still not picked up the book from the library, but I read an intersting review of the same in the New York Times, and was rather dismayed that both the author and the illustrator had refused to be interviewed, which I think shows at best an appalling lack of courage on their part.


message 16: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 28, 2016 03:56PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "A Fine Dessert is a lovely book, interesting, informative, just wonderful in so many ways. And it is tone-deaf on the subject of slavery. The most compelling review of it I read, by an African Amer..."

There really is not enough space allotted to even remotely show the nuances of slavery. I just got the book and looked at the "plantation spread" and if the little girl is so broadly smiling in the one illustration, why do the little girl and the mother then have to hide in the closet to lick the bowls clean? If the house slaves had to hide away for that, then the slave owner (the master) was obviously so cruel and dictating that he even begrudged them the scraps from his family's table, which would mean that a smiling slave would simply be an impossibility, or at least very unlikely, in my opinion.

Also, have you noticed that until the 2010 scenario where the little boy and his father are cooking for a diverse group of friends, it is women and daughters making meals and serving men (and even in the family situations, the mother and the daughters are preparing food and serving their husbands/fathers, sons/brothers). It might indeed be a fine dessert, but the structures of social, gender and ethnic stratification are only shown to have been somewhat broken and loosened in the 2010 spread, kind of a bit late, considering that women's liberation, the right to vote and the like happened much earlier (but maybe a good point of discussion, as perhaps this shows that stratification remains longer in family situations and units).


message 17: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte_riggle) | 93 comments That' so funny, Gundula. I would have thought I'd have noticed that. But you're absolutely right.

I wonder how rare it really was, before the 21st century, for men to cook at home. I'm in my 50s, and when I was growing up, my daddy never cooked during the week. But he often made breakfast for the family on Saturday morning.


message 18: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 29, 2016 05:49AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "That' so funny, Gundula. I would have thought I'd have noticed that. But you're absolutely right.

I wonder how rare it really was, before the 21st century, for men to cook at home. I'm in my 50s,..."


I think it is partially due to the time frames, 1710, 1810, 1910 and 2010; it basically by necessity almost leaves out the entire women's right movement and feminism. Perhaps a different four years in four different centuries would have been better ( and why do we need the same year in four different centuries anyhow, that could easily have been changed to someting like 1710, 1860, 1960, 2010, for example).

I think that especially in the1950s and 60s, men were seen as the breadwinners and women were at home (more so than in the 40s, actually), and this would have been good to show.


message 19: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "That' so funny, Gundula. I would have thought I'd have noticed that. But you're absolutely right.

I wonder how rare it really was, before the 21st century, for men to cook at home. I'm in my 50s,..."


Mine too, and he definitely makes better scrambled eggs than my mother.


message 20: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
When a little girl's favorite dress becomes too short, what is a mother to do? The answer: use your sewing skills to repurpose it into a shirt, or course! I love the way the mom tells the daughter to not make mountains out of molehills, and finds a way to keep recycling the favorite "dress" into something else through each consecutive mishap! I wish sewing skills were more widely used and that moms and dads everywhere could do the simple fixes to make it possible for old, holey, short, or otherwise unsuitable clothing to continue being used!


message 21: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends by Yumi Heo
Lady Hahn spends her days sewing shirts out of beautiful Korean silk. To accomplish this task, she uses her seven friends: scissors, ruler, needle, thread, thimble, flat iron, and iron - but which one is the best. After an argument arises amongst the tools, Lady Hahn reprimands them by saying that she, herself, is the most important. The tools, feeling unappreciated, decide to leave. Lady Hahn, and the tools, discover that everyone's individual talents are needed in order to finish the beautiful shirts.
A sweet story, but the characterizations of the tools were confusing to me, and I wish there was more about the actual sewing rather than just an argument among the various tools.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Thank you, Sam, for the careful description & reaction to Lady Hahn's story. It's not in my library system, but I feel no great loss because of the way you brought it to life, so to speak.

I Had a Favorite Dress sounds very familiar to me. In the book I read a few years ago it was, I think, the grandmother who adapted the dress. And the first step was simply to add another length, maybe a ruffle, to the bottom... Do any of you remember it?? I'd be willing to bet I got the recommendation from someone in this group...

Unfortunately my library system does not have Ashburn's book, either. Nor does it have Fiona's Lace or Selina's Quilt. It does have a different Selina story, which I have ordered.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
My Forever Dress by Harriet Ziefert
Found it: My Forever Dress by Harriet Ziefert. Off to add it to the master list.


message 24: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Thank you, Sam, for the careful description & reaction to Lady Hahn's story. It's not in my library system, but I feel no great loss because of the way you brought it to life, so to speak.

I Had a..."


The sequel to Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt is quite good as well, although it does not have an author's note which really is unfortunate as there is much information implied which one would only know if familiar with the Mennonites (and Waterloo County, Southern Ontario).


message 25: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt by Barbara Smucker
When the US Civil War looms near to Selina's family, they are forced to move to Upper Canada in order to preserve their religious beliefs and remain neutral and peaceful. Selina has long admired the beautiful quilts made by her Mennonite grandmother, mother, and other women in the community. Grandma has been working on a bear paw pattern quilt top, using a combination of new fabric and scraps from old clothing. When Selina leaves, Grandma is too old to travel with her family, but she gives Selina the finished quilt top to take with her and remind her of Grandma. As Selina looks at the different fabrics, she remembers the lessons she learned from Grandma and feels a little bit of comfort in her new home.
This was a sweet story, and I really loved the different quilt patterns used by the illustrator as borders for her pictures. I come from a family of crafters, and although I do not enjoy quilting, I do love piecing the tops together (with my sewing machine - not by hand)! I have an old pink quilt sitting in the top of my closet that my grandmother made for me when I was 5 or 6. It was on my bed all growing up and went to college with me. Since it was queen sized, my husband even had to sleep under it for the first few years of our marriage! It is old now, and falling apart and I am trying to figure out a way to repurpose it so I can keep the memories. :)
When my grandmother was dying, she needed someone to sit with her around the clock, so my many cousins (I think there are 40 of us, my grandmother had 9 children) would take turns sitting with her while my parents were at work. I had to laugh one day when she woke up from her naps to see me trading shifts with my cousin. I was putting away my cross-stitching and NaDean was getting out her knitting. My grandma said "I should get sick more often, it gives all of you kids time to catch up on your projects, and I love to see what you are working on!" I love that memory! Grandma taught all of us kids how to sew, knit, crochet, quilt, etc. We all do what we like, but I love that she passed on those skills to the next few generations.
I named my daughter after this grandmother, who passed away while I was pregnant with my daughter. She is now 6 1/2 and loves sewing little plastic pieces. She just asked me if I could help her make pajama pants, so we'll be doing that soon. She'll help pin and cut, and I'll have her sit on my lap and help feed the fabric through the sewing machine. I can't wait!


message 26: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2477 comments Mod
I Had a Favorite Dress:
Boni Ashburn took an old folksong about a repurposed overcoat and turned it on its head with this modern, updated version. Instead of a man and an overcoat, it's about a young girl and her dress and her dress that is repurposed several times, until it winds up as a hair bow. The illustrations are so fun, lively, and joyful; created with watercolor, graphite, colored pencil, needle and thread, digital collage and Photoshop. The ethnicity of the little girl is not mentioned in the story; she could be black, Hispanic, or bi-racial.


message 27: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2477 comments Mod
Fiona's Lace was a lovely story about Polacco's paternal great-great-grandmother. It is illustrated in Polacco's signature style, using pencil and acetone markers. Fiona was very clever in using an event from a family story in order to save herself and her sister from the great Chicago fire. This long picture book is for elementary students, as the story is too long and complicated for pre-school children to understand.


message 28: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2477 comments Mod
Chicken Sunday:
Gundula and others have already given all the reasons that I also like this book. Very moving and heartwarming.


message 29: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5945 comments Mod
Sam, I love your story! Thank you for sharing. Have you read Valerie Flournay's "The Patchwork Quilt" (on app so can't link, sorry) I think you might enjoy it.

As for what to do with the quilt that has been loved to bits--are some areas of fabric still strong? I recently learned about making a stuffed bear or bunny or other little toy out of precious material like from a favorite article of clothing or old blanket. Maybe that would work! I think they are called "memory stuffed animals" or something like that. Also using an embroidery hoop and stretching the material across that you could do several from different parts of the quilt and hang them on the wall. Just some ideas ;-)


message 30: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5945 comments Mod
Gundula, so kind of you to offer to send your copy of the Selina book (thank you!) but I'm sure it's expensive shipping from Canada and i would prefer you keep it to loan out to your local friends. I actually found affordable used copies online here I just chose to by the "Favorite Dress" book instead as it looked better for sharing with my kiddo. But I'll add the Selina book to my wish list. My mother-in-law quilts so it might even be a book I'll get for her and I'll peruse it first someday ;-)


message 31: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Gundula, so kind of you to offer to send your copy of the Selina book (thank you!) but I'm sure it's expensive shipping from Canada and i would prefer you keep it to loan out to your local friends...."

If you do change your mind, let me know.


message 32: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2477 comments Mod
Lady Hahn and her Seven Friends:
I pretty much agree with Sam's evaluation above. The stylized illustrations are interesting; and yes, the seven tools are partly characterized as vaguely human, with faces, arms, legs, hands, and feet. And each one has her own name.


message 33: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 04, 2016 09:54AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends

Based on a Korean classical essay titled Kyujung Chilwoo Jangrongi (penned in the late 19th century), Yumi Heo's sweet and engaging adaptation thereof demonstrates that while the person who engages in a craft is important, the tools of his or her trade are equally thus (and I really appreciate that an author's note was provided, as I am very much unaware of Korean culture and value the additional knowledge provided). I enjoyed the back and forth, given and take narrative; both Lady Hahn and her seven friends (the seven personalized tools of her trade) realise and learn that they all need each other and that only together they are able to succeed (to sew garments). As to the illustrations, while by themselves, I would not necessarily consider them personal favourites or even all that much to my taste, in conjunction with the narrative, they work exceedingly well, a very nice and appropriate marriage of text and image.


message 34: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
When a little girl's favorite dress becomes too short, what is a mother to do? The answer: use your sewing skills to repurpose it into a shirt, or course..."


Not everyone has the talent for sewing, although it should be taught more. I hated sewing and knitting class because I was uncoordinated and had fine motor skill issues and the so called teachers were basically verbally abusive and called me lazy (as did my grandmother who assumed I was just being stubborn).


message 35: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
I Had a Favorite Dress

Boni Ashburn's sweet little romp (poetic, descriptive and just plain fun) depicts a little girl's favourite dress being repeatedly reused and recycled into various other (then) favourite articles of clothing (from a shirt to finally a hair bow, and when that hair bow falls prey to a puppy's sharp little teeth, the bits of remaining fabric are rescued and incorporated into a picture). While not actually presenting and describing the skills required to sew, to turn the favourite dress, the favourite shirt, the favourite tank top etc. into other articles of clothing (in fact, the "snip, snip, sew, sew" mantra makes the whole process appear rather quick and easy, which it is not, especially for those of us who are rather untalented with regard to sewing and similar types of skills), I Had a Favorite Dress does clearly demonstrate how reusing and recycling one's too short or too old clothes can lead to extended use, fun and a sense of pride of craftsmanship (the girl's mother might be the one sewing the "new" clothes, but it is her daughter who proudly wears them, and declares each of them her new favourite garment, to be worn on her always new favourite day of the week). Julia Denos' bright and bouncy illustrations are the perfect compliment to the narrative, exhibiting a wonderful sense movement, as well as the joy and happiness the little girl receives with each of her new "old" clothes. While by themselves, I would not necessarily consider the illustrations personal favourites, they absolutely and perfectly suit Boni Ashborn's lively and fun text (and yes, I do actually consider the hair bow, the final "snip, snip, sew, sew" sequence, an article of clothing, although some might argue that it is an accessory instead).


message 36: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2477 comments Mod
A Fine Desert:
I liked this book very much, in spite of the controversy. It was interesting to follow the same recipe being passed down through the centuries, and it was especially interesting to see how the cream beaters changed over the centuries. I liked how in the last family, it was the dad and son who made the blackberry fool. I liked the author's illustrations rendered in Chinese ink, watercolor and blackberry juice; and I thought they worked very well with the text. Here is a link to Sophie Blackall's response to the criticism of her illustrations: http://sophieblackall.blogspot.com/20...


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
I finally got a chance to read A Fine Dessert, myself, and enjoyed it very much. The author's and illustrator's notes are more than reassuring to me. It's not like a parent is going to have a child read Kindred to learn how bad slavery is, after all. This book provides a starting point for discussion, as is suggested in the notes. My personal take? The master wouldn't mind the slaves eating the dessert, but the mistress is capricious, and so they hide just in case.


message 38: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Gundula wrote: "Sam wrote: "I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
When a little girl's favorite dress becomes too short, what is a mother to do? The answer: use your sewing skills to repurpose it into a shir..."


I am much like you, Gundula. My grandma, aunts, mom and sisters are all quite good at sewing. My mom gave it her best efforts to teach me but I was terrible...as I am at most craft things...my lines aren't straight and I find the process of making many craft items more aggravating and discouraging than enjoyable. I can appreciate the talent in others but it is something that I neither enjoy nor have skill in.


message 39: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 07, 2016 06:05AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Jenny wrote: "Gundula wrote: "Sam wrote: "I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
When a little girl's favorite dress becomes too short, what is a mother to do? The answer: use your sewing skills to repurpos..."


My mother is not all that adept at sewing and such either, but she still was annoyed I failed knitting class.


message 40: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Gundula and Jenny, I'm so sad you had teachers that were frustrated! I understand the lack of talent - I can't knit to save my life, even though I had a patient grandmother who tried to teach me on several (probably 10 or more) occasions! And I wish I were better at sports - my gross motor skills are pretty sad :)
I hope I didn't offend anyone when I said that I wished more parents had the knowledge to repurpose older items, it was not my intention! I totally understand that not everyone has the talent - we all have different things we are good at, which is part of what makes begin a human so great! I was merely saying that I wish the skills were more widely taught, so that everyone had an opportunity to learn a few basic skills. And yes, it is definitely more tough that the "snip snip sew sew" implied in the book.


message 41: by SamZ (last edited Mar 07, 2016 08:13AM) (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Cheryl wrote: "I finally got a chance to read A Fine Dessert, myself, and enjoyed it very much. The author's and illustrator's notes are more than reassuring to me. It's not like a parent is going to have a child..."

I agree entirely, Cheryl! I finally got it back in and read through the author's and illustrator's notes. I feel that they addressed the concept of slavery, but instead focused on the way the dessert stayed the same even though the methods and technology changed. I also love that the author noted that in the past, women and girls would have been the ones to cook for the men in their family, but now cooking is a role embraced by both genders (as shown by the dad and son in the 2010 sequence).
On an related note: we are making strawberry fool tonight, so I'll post pictures (if I can figure it out) later this week!


message 42: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Sam wrote: "Gundula and Jenny, I'm so sad you had teachers that were frustrated! I understand the lack of talent - I can't knit to save my life, even though I had a patient grandmother who tried to teach me on..."

I wasn't at all offended, Sam. I think it is a valuable skill and often wish I was better at it. I agree that it is unfortunate that more people aren't taught these skills. It is a wonderful thing that humans have such a wide range of skills, talents and abilities and I can certainly appreciate them in others even when I don't have them. :)


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Thanks to youtube, the For Dummies books, and other sources, we can all *attempt to* learn lots of crafting and general homemaking, cooking, and mechanics' skills that we didn't have a chance to earlier.

I can sew a pillowcase and a curtain, but don't have the patience for more right now. I'd have loved to learn to crochet or knit, but I keep making excuses to avoid doing so. I've not read the book that prompted this discussion, though, so I don't know if I could transform a dress.


message 44: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Jenny wrote: "Sam wrote: "Gundula and Jenny, I'm so sad you had teachers that were frustrated! I understand the lack of talent - I can't knit to save my life, even though I had a patient grandmother who tried to..."

I was not offended either.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
I was not able to get Selina and the Bear-Paw quilt, so I read Selina and the Shoo-Fly Pie. A bit earnest, but nonetheless charming. Images from a (the?) quilt enhance the illustrations of this story. Two recipe variations are included, but no historical note.


message 46: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 09, 2016 05:15PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7674 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I was not able to get Selina and the Bear-Paw quilt, so I read Selina and the Shoo-Fly Pie. A bit earnest, but nonetheless charming. Images from a (the?) quilt enhance the illustrati..."

The lack of a historical note is a bit annoying. I know the area, as I lived in Waterloo. ON, for quite some time, but for those not familiar with Waterloo County, and the Mennonites, the lack of background info could be a bit of an issue. The first book does have a historical note, but one that I think should have included more information. I mean, how many would be aware of the fact that during WWI, Berlin, ON, where Selina and her family originally settled, due to massive anti Gerrman sentiment (especially again against the pacifist Mennonites) was changed to Kitchener.


message 47: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Fiona's Lace by Patricia Polacco
When the mill closes down, Fiona's family must find a new way to support themselves. After hearing about an offer to travel to America to work in service for a wealthy family, Fiona and her parents travel to Chicago where they learn that the streets really aren't paved with gold. Fiona begins to make and sell lace in order to supplement her family's income and help them move out of the tenements they are living in. When the great Chicago fire strikes, only Fiona's lace and the family tale of how her parents met can reunite Fiona and her sister with their misplaced parents.
I loved this sweet story, and I especially enjoyed Fiona's bravery and clear head during the fire to protect her sister as well as grab the lace and family "money tin." I was angry about the rich family, who basically brought Irish workers over as slaves - although I know it happened! Such a fun story to read! I do wish there had been an author's note that at least explained the basics of lace making. I know it's far too intricate for a beginner's lesson in the scope of the book, but a few paragraphs for insight would have been very interesting.


message 48: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
I agree with everything previously stated, I loved this story! I also really enjoyed all the little details in Polacco's illustrations - my favorite was the needle and thread stuck through Mr. Kodinski's shirt! I often put one through the hem of my shirt or the knee of my jeans when I'm hand sewing. It really gets me in trouble when I forget that I put it there!


message 49: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends

This is a darling retelling of a Korean folktale. Lady Hahn has 7 friends, the tools she uses for sewing. (They have darling names and I love their illustrations: Mrs. Ruler, Newlywed Scissors, Young Bride Needle, Young Bride Red Thread, Old Lady Thimble, Young Lady Flatiron, and Little Miss Iron.) The tools begin to argue about who is most important. Each thinks she is the most important.

This could be used in a multicultural folk tale unit, in a character lesson on teamwork or humility, or in a lesson on point of view. This also involves sewing and crafts and creativity. Lots of ways it could be used in a classroom.


message 50: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments I Had a Favorite Dress. This darling book filled with colorful vocabulary and poetic language shows what happens when a girl outgrows her favorite dress and her talented-at-sewing mama repurposes it again and again to make a shirt, skirt, scarf and bow. I love what the girl does with the scraps at the end. I love the warm relationship between mother and daughter and the expressive illustrations.


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