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Lyons Den Books

Stitching Stars: The Story Quilts of Harriet Powers

(Scribner, 1993 ISBN:0-684-19576-3)

Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December 1993 (Vol. 47, No. 4))
Harriet Powers was born in slavery and lived in poverty, with few records of her life except her richly imaginative story quilts. In this brief artistic biography, Lyons openly surmises or fictionalizes where the bitter obscurity of slavery and poverty has resulted in an absence of records, but Harriet speaks eloquently through her handiwork depicting Bible stories and natural phenomena. Lyons explains how a young white schoolteacher became enamored of Harriet's quilts, bought them, and exhibited them, as well as taking down Harriet's explanation of the stories depicted thereupon, and she also describes the history and importance of quilting in the African-American community. The colors of the quilts (shown in many color and black-and-white photos) have faded, but their narrative power remains evident and fascinating; Lyons' lively writing stitches concepts together with smoothness and clarity. In an attractively accessible format, this is both an unusual take on history and a reminder of the democratic possibilities of art. A list of selected sources and an index are included. (African-American Artists and Artisans) R--Recommended. (c) Copyright 1993, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1993, Scribner's, 42p; illus. with photographs, $15.95. Grades 3-6.

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