What are you reading?
Today I want to share a lovely book, Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. This is a beautiful picture book about legacy, history, slavery, Civil Rights, family, stories, and the power of women who were not afraid to fight for freedom. The book traces seven generations of the author’s family, all women who learned the art of quilting and used their stitching to tell important stories. The story is told from the point of view of a great-granddaughter who was born free. But Soonie’s great-grandma was a slave on a plantation, who was only allowed her needles, red thread and some muslin from her mother when she was sold from her family and forced to move to South Carolina without her parents. Eventually she sewed a Show Ways quilt, a secret map showing slaves the journey to freedom. Quilts became an important part of life, especially for each daughter as she learned the art of sewing and the tradition passed on to the next generation. Through the quilts we see the history of the family, from slavery through freedom, through Civil Rights. The quilts are a living history, changing the course of so many lives and displaying the strength of the African-American spirit.
Illustrations by Hudson Talbott showcase the beauty and complexity of the quilts. The theme of stitches is carried throughout every page, sometimes with bright colors and sometimes dark, showing how the quilts were part of each generation. The final page brings together all of the women in one long quilt that spans both pages. The legacy is carried on and the quilting continues.
Show Way won a Newbery Honor Medal in 2005. Discussing Show Way on her website, Jacqueline Woodson wrote: “After my grandmother died and my daughter was born, I wanted to figure out a way to hold on to all the amazing history in our family. I wanted a Show Way for my daughter.”