Piece By Piece
written by Stephanie Shaw; illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault
2017 (Sleeping Bear Press)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
At night she wove the day's bounty into cloth. It was rich. Exquisite. Unique.
A kind weaver places unusual memories from a trip to the seaside into her basket. The springiness of moss and the leap and splash of a fish. With her children fast asleep, she magically weaves these and other memories into lovely cloth. When her children ask where the cloth came from, she responds with more unexpected items like the sweetness of a puppy and the breath of a hot air balloon. Using her unique bolts of cloth, she weaves a beautiful dress that includes dragon scales and a pirate's sash. The weaver hopes to sell the dress so her family can afford basic necessities. When she shows the dress to a shopkeeper, he pooh-poohs it. He tells her to remove the shimmer of the starlight and candle glow if she wants to sell the dress in his shop. The weaver acquiesces and changes the top. When she returns, the crotchety shopkeeper demands more be removed. Gorgeous items like the coo of a dove and the scent of chocolate and cinnamon fall to the floor as she cuts again and again. Soon nothing is left but a small piece of fabric that catches the tears of the weaver. Of course, now the shopkeeper wants nothing to do with the weaver's work. Fortunately, fairy tales have a happy ending. The children, unbeknownst to their mother, kept all of the pieces that were removed from the dress and created a fantastic quilt. Anxious to buy the quilt, the shopkeeper is told by the weaver, in a nice way, to talk to the hand. As she tucks her children under the amazing quilt that night, the weaver tells a story as her hand moves across this special patchwork. The ending spread reveals a dream fulfilled without a prince in sight.
Piece By Piece is a lovely twist on a fairy tale. There's no royalty around, but you will find magic and good vs. evil (or maybe just mean). When the weaver describes her cloth, the adjectives flow, but it's not all about pretty objects. It's a nice touch that she includes sounds like the squishing of mud between the toes and the kiss of the sea on the shore. One of the lessons I pick up here is there is more to life than shiny things. You also see a family that follows their dreams.
Similes abound in this book. There are several language mini-lessons you will be able to create. As you see below, the artwork is outstanding and quite fairy talish (Is that a word? It is now.) I would also find a copy of The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy and compare the two books with a Venn diagram. Both include a strong emphasis on family. Add Piece By Piece to your collection of fairy tales. It's a piece of magic.