Book Review: The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polaco

The Keeping Quilt is the heartwarming biography of four generations of the author’s own immigrant Jewish family and the unique quilt that wraps all of the generations together.

“’We will make a quilt to help us always remember home,” Anna’s mother said. ‘It will be like having the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night’.”

Originally made from the author’s great grandmother’s favorite dress and headscarf, or babushka, and decorated by her great grandmother’s friends, the keeping quilt shows up on the table as a tablecloth, on the grass as a picnic blanket, at weddings, and wrapped around the newest babies in the family.

keeping quilt origin

With the quilt as a central feature, the author tells her family story, describing the many traditions of her family, both cultural and religious, and how those traditions changed and adapted over time and with the blending of both Russian and American cultures.

The author’s own unique artwork beautifully enhances the story of how her family left Russia to immigrate to America.  Only the quilt is colored, which serves to highlight the prominent role of the quilt for the family.  Traditions and cultures may change from generation to generation, but one thing remained constant – the beautiful tradition of the keeping quilt.

“Twenty years ago I held Traci Denise in the quilt for the first time.  Someday she, too, will leave home and she will take the quilt with her.”

the keeping quilt spread

As you might suspect, the story is about more than just a quilt.  It’s about family and the precious traditions that bind a family together from generation to generation.  It’s the story of love, faith, and tradition that endures generation after generation.  It’s the fascinating retelling of one family’s story that has the power to inspire each of us to celebrate the traditions that bind us together and make our own family stories so much more meaningful and special.

This is a longer book comprised of 32 pages, but even children as young as age 4 or 5 would enjoy having this story read to them, especially if the reading of this story led to a discussion of their own family traditions and history.

See the original keeping quilt and meet the author in this video:

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco can be found at your favorite local bookseller or online in hardcover, paperback, and digital editions.

Review shared by Theresa Case who has an award-winning Kindermusik program in Greenville, South Carolina, at Piano Central Studios.

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