Book Review: Patricia Polacco’s The Keeping Quilt

Posted June 6, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Children's

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Patricia Polacco’s The Keeping Quilt

The Keeping Quilt


Patricia Polacco

memoir, picture book that was published by Aladdin Books on 1996 and has 32 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Chicken Sunday, Pink and Say

A children’s storybook that revolved around a quilt of memories.

In 1988, The Keeping Quilt won the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers.

My Take

It was sweet enough — and I’m already prejudiced towards it as I am a quilter. And I want to make one of these. I absolutely adored the colorful animals and flowers that were appliquéd on this quilt! I also loved the many, many ways in which this quilt was used and loved [although I did hold my breath when it was used as a tablecloth…eek].

It was more a story of family, keeping alive the memory of those who have passed on.

It’s also a very personal story for the author as it’s of her family and their family memories. Memories that took me back to my own family and family picnics at my grandparents’.

“A gold coin, a dried flower, and a piece of rock salt…



On the illustrations, I’m split. Polacco did a great job of rendering family portraits, and I do appreciate that using charcoal for the people and color only for the quilt really made the quilt itself stand out — thank you very much, Patricia Polacco! On the other hand, the contrast between the styles was jarring. It could well be that my love for fabric really wanted the clothing everyone was wearing to be more vivid. I did adore the evolution of fashion with each flip of a page.

I’m also split on the way in which Polacco told her story. I wanted more. More of the cultural traditions Polacco’s family brought from Russia. I appreciated the Jewish traditions — love the quilt as a huppa — but there must have been some Russian influence on it all!?? Or did I just not notice…?

I wish that Polacco had been more clear about Great-Gramma Anna’s age when she first arrived in America — as well as a re-wording of “Great-Grandpa Sasha” with whom she fell in love. Took me a bit aback until I re-worded it in my mind to “Sasha, who became my great-grandpa”. That first page had me looking for an old lady in the crowd. And why is there no name for Great-Gramma Anna’s mother??

“…wealth, love, and flavor for their lives

…never know hunger

…for laughter”

The Story

From the beginning with Great-Gramma Anna who comes across the ocean from Russia with her parents to America, and we follow the author’s family to now, always with the quilt to keep memories alive.

The Characters

Great-Gramma Anna who married Great-Grandpa Sasha had Grandma Carle who married Grandpa George, and they had Mary Ellen who had Patricia who looks forward to keeping on with the quilt.

The Cover and Title

The cover is very representative of the story with generations of women admiring the colorful quilt of animals and flowers.

The title is of a very important memory, The Keeping Quilt that keeps alive the memories of those who have made possible the family of today.


Leave a Reply