cover image The Seasons Sewn: A Year in Patchwork

The Seasons Sewn: A Year in Patchwork

Ann Whitford Paul. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-276918-5

Traditional quilt blocks, with their litany of evocative names (""The Trail of the Covered Wagon,"" ""Mariner's Compass"" and so on) are Paul's (Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet) device for peering into the past in this handsome volume, and quite an effective device it is. Speculating on the origins of some two dozen designs, she examines both everyday life and historical events-inspired by the pattern ""Reel,"" for instance, Paul describes how women spun flax and wool into thread and yarn, while ""Rising Star"" sparks a discussion of slaves traveling north to freedom. Grouped by seasons, the historical snippets and small illustrations of quilt patterns are pieced into a stunning visual patchwork crowned by masterful scratchboards. Whether depicting sturdy pioneers crossing the Sierra Nevada, a pastoral farm scene or the candlelit interior of a log cabin, McCurdy's finely etched illustrations, with their careful attention to detail and old-fashioned flavor, urge upon readers a commanding vision of American history. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)