Chipmunk Tale
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Poetry Friday: Quilt Alphabet

Quilt Quilt Alphabet
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by James E. Ransome
Holiday House, 2001
32 pages
ISBN: 0-8234-1453-1

This morning as I was sitting in the aisles and reading shelving books at Junior's school library, I came across a beautiful volume of alphabet poems. I knew this husband-and-wife team's work from a later picture book, Quilt Counting, which is equally appealing. In the abecedarian book, each letter is represented by a quilt square, and each poem is a riddle, containing clues to what an accompanying illustration shows. With one or two exceptions, four to six year olds should be able to guess the answers quickly from James Ransome's vivid pictures. Take "T," for example: 


Push Pull Plow Plant
Trudging through the land
Heave Haul Heft Heap
A farmer's helping hand

Looking at the illustration, a young listener can tell immediately identify the machine plowing rows of earth: tractor! Of course.

In keeping with the quilt theme, the book's setting is rural, and it evokes a warm-colored, Vermonty-looking life: apples, cows, fresh eggs, jack o'lanterns, and brilliant yellow leaves. I have to return Quilt Alphabet to the library next week, but it's one I'll definitely pick up again for a baby gift or kindergartener's birthday present.

For more verse talk among the children's book bloggers, see the Poetry Friday roundup at Karen Edmisten's place.


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I love the way Quilt Alphabet makes you work a little more than the typical alphabet book (like that tractor, I guess!). And I love "shelving" at the school library, too.

Anamaria, I've found more great books that way. (Another favorite "discovery" was How the Philharmonic Gets Dressed." Love that book!) Also fun is helping set up the library sale, where you can buy stuff in advance!

I can't get enough of alphabet books. It doesn't matter that Ramona doesn't "need" them anymore. We all need them.

Karen, I am so hoping that Jr. will agree to read this with me. I'll definitely take it along to read with the first graders I tutor.

We love The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, too (I posted about it a few weeks ago!). I do love it when I (or the kids, pulling books from the shelves willy-nilly) discover something special. Now I just have to get on the library sale committee...

Oh, my quilting-mama friends are going to love knowing about this book!

KCB, oh, yes, do tell your quilting chums. It's a beautiful book, the rhymes are fun to guess (Jr. happily agreed to read it with me and enjoyed guessing), and the art will make you want to move there. It's mature-looking art, if there is such a thing; Ransome has the eye of a landscape painter.

If you by any chance have the complete New Yorker on CD ROM, there was a fabulous article by Andrea Lee (July 11, 1983) about looking for quilts in North Carolina, where some of her relatives lived.

Anamaria, I will go look for your review. The Philharmonic book is nearly thirty years old, and yet it has an ageless quality about it. Do you know any other books on music like that? I really enjoyed M.T. Anderson's picture-book biography of Erik Satie, which is fittingly odd.

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