Cover image for The patchwork path : a quilt map to freedom
The patchwork path : a quilt map to freedom
1st ed.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2005.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : ill. ; 30 cm.
Added Author:
While her father leads her toward Canada and away from the plantation where they have been slaves, a young girl thinks of the quilt her mother used to teach her a code that will help guide them to freedom.


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Book EASY STR 1 1

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The images stitched into Hannah's patchwork quilt lead to secret signposts on the Underground Railroad as she and her father take flight from slavery on a perilous path to freedom.

The wagon wheel. The bear's paw. The flying geese. These are some of the squares in the quilt Hannah's mama helped her to sew -- before Hannah's sister was sold to another plantation and before Mama died of a broken heart. Now that Hannah's papa has decided to make the run for freedom, this patchwork quilt is not just a precious memento of Mama -- it's a series of hidden clues that will guide them along the Underground Railroad to Canada, where they'll finally be free. A fictionalized account of a fascinating oral history, THE PATCHWORK PATH tells the story of a brave father and his young daughter, two of thousands who escaped a life of slavery and made the dangerous journey to freedom -- a story of courage, determination, and hope.

Author Notes

Bettye Stroud is the author of several picture books that speak of her African American heritage, including DANCE Y'ALL, THE LEAVING, and DOWN HOME AT MISS DESSA'S. Of THE PATCHWORK PATH, she says, "I want my writing to be inspirational to children as they face the 'demons' I write about. I hope my readers see themselves and know they are not alone in facing disappointments. I want them to know all is never lost; there is always hope."

Erin Susanne Bennett is a recent graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Of THE PATCHWORK PATH, her first book, she says, "Growing up in Rochester, New York, had a tremendous impact on my awareness of the Underground Railroad. Illustrating THE PATCHWORK PATH has only deepened my appreciation for the immense strength, courage, and sacrifice embodied by African American slaves and those who fought with them for equality."

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

A young slave and her father use a code hidden within the patterns of a quilt to find their way to freedom. "The child's candid first-person narrative captures her apprehension as well as her hope and determination," said PW. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

A young girl and her father combine the code embedded in a patchwork quilt pattern with several clues on their journey to guide them to freedom. The well-written first-person narrative and somber oil illustrations sensitively portray the dangerous trip. The code is illustrated and explained within the text; the afterword provides background information that adds authenticity to the story. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 3. A child tells of escaping to Canada on the Underground Railroad, accompanied by her father, and of following secret signs sewn into quilt patterns. The exciting escape story makes the history immediate, and the fascinating quilt-code messages will have children revisiting the page that shows each symbol and its secret directions. Bennett's bright oil paintings make dramatic use of collage to show the quilt code and the brave fugitives. Helped by Quakers and other rescuers, Hannah and Papa make it to the border, but the sadness of her sister still in slavery and her Mama's death is with them as they cross. A fascinating afterword reveals how much of the story was based on history. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2005 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-An exciting story about a girl and her father who escape slavery with help from the coded symbols on a quilt. Shortly after Hannah's sister is sold to another plantation, Mama dies, but not before teaching Hannah how to sew, whispering, "-this quilt will show you everything you need to know to run to freedom." Their journey leads them along the Underground Railroad, from their Georgia plantation to a hiding place beneath a church, through pirate tunnels, and eventually to the home of a Quaker family. Finally, they cross Lake Erie into Canada, and the narrative ends on a hopeful note as Hannah makes a new quilt with an empty square for her sister, praying that someday they'll be together again, and free. The first-person narrative flows smoothly and lends immediacy to the dramatic events. The vivid oil paintings are skillfully done, with the characters' expressive faces reflecting their fear and courage, and angular lines echoing the quilt squares. An afterword gives some historical background. Overall, this works well as a story and also as a lesson in African-American history.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Ten-year-old Hannah learned the secret messages of her Mama's precious quilt. Though Mama passes away and her sister Mary has been sent to a far-off plantation, Hannah still has her precious quilt and the words her mother taught her that will help her find her way to Canada and freedom. Each pattern has its own shape and meaning, from monkey wrench to bear's paw to bowties and all the way to stars, and each shape points the way and gives inspiration to Hannah and her father when the time comes for them to flee. This fictionalized account of an oral history, illustrated with stylized oil paintings, tells the now-familiar story of the nighttime escape of slaves. The frequent visual and oral references to the quilt patterns seem somewhat contrived but act to hold the story together. Stroud and Bennett tread a similar path to the one walked by Clara in Deborah Hopkinson's landmark Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (1993). (afterword) (Picture book. 4-9) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.