2006 Honor: Show Way

VERDICT: Treasure

Laurinda’s Rating: 3.75/5

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson is a children’s book which tells the history of Woodson’s family; it situates members in their historical context and does a great job of showing how individuals make history.

The story begins before the Civil War, with a great grandmother’s great grandmother. She made quilts to help escaping slaves follow the Underground Railroad. They called these Show Ways, because they showed the way to a particular destination. If you’d like to learn more about this, National Geographic has an interesting article on it. Through generations, the women in the family continued to find inspiration in quilting. Quilt squares helped calm and reassure two aunts who participated in the 1960’s struggles for Civil Rights. Despite how much the author’s life has changed from that of her predecessors, quilting, together with the drive to read and write shared by more recent generations, helps tie together the past and present.

Honestly, the pictures are the real star of this book. I’ve posted a number of them, like this to our Tumblr. The history heavy panels use a lovely collage/mural of pictures and newspaper articles talking about the event, with illustrations of the relevant character standing in front of the mural. The quilts included are very colorful; I particularly love an illustration towards the end that integrates the text of the entire book into a quilt square.

This Newbery Honor winner is aimed at younger children, probably about kindergarten age. For me, this was worth picking up primarily for the pictures. The story is fine and absolutely one that should be told; it just didn’t grab me as strongly as the images.

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