One doesn’t go looking for beautiful children’s books in a mortgage lender’s office, but that is where I found this one. We were there to get approved for our first homeowner’s loan, and while we waited for our appointment, I scanned the heap of outdated financial magazines for a copy of People (alas! I cannot resist the pull of People). I found, instead, The Quiltmaker’s Gift.
And so, as my husband second-guessed the wisdom of buying a home so old it once had an outhouse, I disappeared into a lovely fable about a quiltmaker who lived atop the blue misty mountains. She made quilts whose “blue seemed to come from the deepest parts of the ocean, the whites from the northernmost snows, the greens and purples from the abundant wildflowers, the reds, oranges, and pinks from the most wonderful sunsets.” She created her quilts not for profit or fame, but to give to the poor and homeless.
When the king demanded that she make a gift of one of her quilts to him, the quiltmaker told him that, to earn one of her quilts, he must give away everything he owned. “With each gift that you give,” she said,” I’ll sew in another piece. When at last all your things are gone, your quilt will be finished.”
In The Quiltmaker’s Gift, I saw the story of the rich young ruler the way I wish it had turned out (and still hope, in time, that it did turn out). Gail de Marken’s illustrations are vibrant and detailed, with another story tucked into the quilt’s patterns that give hints as to what happens next. Her style and those details suit the story of the king’s struggle and transformation beautifully.
Finding this book that day in the bank was timely. Finding it on the shelf at our library this summer was timely too, as I was in the mood for something lovely to read on a blanket in the backyard. Perhaps I’ll even pull out an old quilt for the occasion.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift
Jeff Brumbeau, Gail de Marken (2001)