cover image Papa and the Pioneer Quilt

Papa and the Pioneer Quilt

Jean Van Leeuwen, , illus. by Rebecca Bond. . Dial, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-3028-1

P apa's wandering feet took Rebecca's family from her Pennsylvania birthplace to Missouri, and now they “have us wandering again.” Van Leeuwen's (the Oliver and Amanda Pig series) winsome tale follows their journey to Oregon by wagon train. Among the travelers is a bride who owns only a kettle filled with fabric scraps that she is sewing into a quilt. Rebecca likes the thought of turning “old bits of this and that into something new,” and Mama tells her that if she collects fabric, together they will sew a quilt. The first item the earnest young narrator puts into her string bag is the handkerchief Grandma gave her when they left (her “tears were still on it”). She subsequently adds Papa's ripped shirt, a sunbonnet another youngster gives her, her brother's tattered britches, a tablecloth she finds in an abandoned wagon and, once they triumphantly reach Oregon, the dress she wore each day of the journey. At night, in their cabin surrounded by the “finest farmland” Papa had ever seen, she and her mother stitch Rebecca's quilt—in a pattern Mama calls “Wandering Foot” (a concluding note explains the origin of that historical motif). Effectively evoking the era and the evolving landscape—expansive plains, towering mountains, sprawling valleys, endless sky—Bond's (Just Like a Baby ) sun-drenched acrylic paintings also convey the pluck of these multigenerational pioneers. A deftly stitched period piece. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)