Just glancing through this book by Kathleen Tracy you will first notice that you feel you have gone back into the past. The quilts are all made with lovely reproduction fabric true to the colors of the fabrics that the pioneers would have used. Compelling photographs of pioneers and their children are scattered throughout the book.
In these pictures families stand proudly in front of tiny cabins. Native American girls sit with their dolls and small tepees, their version of dollhouses. A few children stand with their teacher in front of a school house on a lonely prairie. I look at the faces in these photographs and try to imagine what each person's hopes and dreams might have been.
Under each chapter's introductory pioneer photograph is a quote from a young person's diary or letter. The quote at the beginning of this page is but one of them
One letter relates, "O Mary I have not wrote you half of the truble we have had..." Then you read this was written by a twelve year old girl who was a survivor of the Donner party and understand why she could not bear to tell it all.
Each chapter gives a bit of history to introduce related projects. The information answers questions like; How did the women and children feel about their journey westward? What did they fear and what did the real dangers turn out to be? What was life like when they settled in their new homes?
The chapter titled "Leaving Home" offers two friendship quilts, one a Friendship Star quilt and the other made with a traditional signature block. Friends and family often made quilts like these for dear ones who were about to travel west
Another chapter, "Life on the Trail", introduces a lively Broken Dishes pattern and a delightful little Bear's Paw quilt. Although little quilting was actually done on the trail pioneers certainly could have been inspired to make quilts in memory of their trip when they arrived at their destinations.
The "Making a New Home" chapter includes not only a traditional Log Cabin quilt but also my favorite a little doll sized braided rug. Another chapter, "Family Life: Work and Play" adds more about life once settled in the west. A Game Board quilt reminds us that games would have been a form of entertainment while the Prairie Basket quilt brings to mind berry picking." A sweet little doll apron pattern is also included.
The other chapter titles are "Courage Through Adversity", "One Land, Many Cultures" and "Little School on the Prairie". These include a mourning quilt, a Native American quilt and a school house quilt among others.
These little quilts are made with a variety of scraps much like the pioneers would likely have used. You will be delighted with the turkey reds, indigos, and chrome yellows in the reproduction fabrics. Most people don't realize how colorful fabric was during the mid to late 1800s.
This information is presented in a way that is interesting to both adults and children. In fact this book would be ideal for teachers and those home schooling their children. History would be learned then a related project could be done.
Also hobbyists who collect or make dolls and those who enjoy making miniature quilts will find this book to be a great addition to their library.