cover image Stitch by Stitch: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly Sews Her Way to Freedom

Stitch by Stitch: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly Sews Her Way to Freedom

Connie Schofield-Morrison, illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Holiday House, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3963-8

Featuring plentiful italicized block quotes from Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly’s (1818–1907) memoir, Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, this picture book biography centers the Black seamstress’s indomitable spirit, from being “born a slave,” buying her freedom and that of her son with her dressmaking skills, and sewing for D.C.’s elite, including First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Schofield-Morrison offers accessible, starkly rendered prose, highlighting accounts of Lizzy witnessing an auction of an enslaved child and being “brutally beaten,” alongside historical context. Employing the chorus “stitch by stitch,” Schofield-Morrison emphasizes Keckly’s resolve: “Lizzy agreed to receive money from her patrons only under the condition that she would repay them... stitch by stitch.” Zunon embroiders Keckly’s oft-difficult life story across lush, multilayered mixed-media spreads, featuring a beguiling tapestry of oil paint, paper, fabric, ribbon, embroidery, lace, and appliqué, in this sobering profile. Back matter features an author’s note, timeline, and bibliography. Ages 7–10. (Nov.)