I love reading picture books (they may even have saved my life when my kids were short). As a children’s librarian I got to present a lot of story-times and I believe picture books are suitable for people of all ages. Recently, in trying to recall some of my favourite titles, they eluded me. So I went to the library catalogue, and then the library itself to do some research. There I was, crawling around on the floor, pulling out books wedged spine-side up into the tiny cubicles of the children’s section, trying to identify hard-to-find gems. My first 3 suggestions fit a ‘cloth and culture’ theme. No surprise, as I love textiles, and all things fibre, yarn, fabric, sew, quilt, spin, knit, weave or felt related. That’s a pretty broad net, but you have to start somewhere. To deliver a good story-time, it certainly helps to be inspired by the book choices.
A Pattern for Pepper, Julie Kraulis, Tundra Books, 2017
In this teaching story, Pepper learns about a tailor’s trade while searching for a fabric for her new dress. She helps design the pattern and wears her dress on a most special day, for an afternoon party. Houndstooth and ikat, pinstripe, toile and other designs are introduced, and each time she rejects them until the perfect one is found. I enjoyed this book because of the quality illustrations, the subject of fabric and clothing design, and the story of how Pepper comes to get a new outfit. This book could be a read-aloud for kids in grades 2-4, for talking about cloth and culture, dressmaking and tailoring from a European perspective.
Tags: art and design, cloth and culture, dressmaking, tailoring, grades 2-4
The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, Illustrated by Jackie Morris, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, London, 2011
A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes is illustrated with bright watercolour paintings full of whimsy and the fantastical. Longhaired damsels in dresses of fine fabrics and animal companions adorn the pages. You will find dogs and horses, polar bears, mice, bats and weasels, ships and castles, as well as the odd knave. There were many familiar rhymes and a few new-to-me including, Baby’s Bed’s a Silver Moon, Little Thomas Tittlemouse and A Swarm of Bees in May. This book would be useful as a companion book for a K-2 story-time. I enjoy sharing one or two nursery rhymes with the kids to accompany a main story, and discussing folklore and the practice of reading pictures.
Tags: picture books, nursery rhymes, author-illustrator, grades K-2, watercolour, fantasy, whimsy, animals
Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki, Kids Can Press, Toronto, 2003.
On the first day of school Suki wants to wear her kimono. Her sisters do not think it is a good idea because she might get teased. She wears it anyway and enjoys the attention she gets for performing a circle dance she learned from her Obachan. The book genre is realistic fiction and it would work for grades 1-2.
Tags: Japanese American culture, circle dancing, kimonos, cloth and culture, schools, peer pressure, grades 1-2