Children's books amuse adults as well as kids

Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2000

Quilt of Dreams celebrates the special relationships of grandmothers, mothers and daughters and their labors of love that result in spectacular, functional pieces of art quilts.

Written by Mindy Dwyer, an Anchorage author and illustrator, the story also touches on the death of a loved one and the desire to hold on to memories.

Dwyer paints a factual picture of the art of quiltmaking framed in the story of a mother and daughter alone for the winter because the father is away at work. The themes of tradition, love, thriftiness and patience associated with a quilters work fill the book.

While Alaska readers will assume the story is set in Alaska, the family could be in Montana, Maine or Minnesota. The winter scenes and activities portrayed by the author are typical of northern winters everywhere.


Quilt of Dreams

Story and illustrations by Mindy Dwyer

Dwyer incorporates quilt designs into the colorful illustrations. She further describes them and tells a short history of each block in the authors notes.

Adults will enjoy and appreciate the story and illustrations as well as the children to whom they read it.

Dwyer also illustrated Alaskas Three Little Pigs written by first-time author Arlene Laverde, an elementary teacher in New York.

This fresh retelling of the traditional folk tale maintains the integrity of the original story while offering authentic Alaska imagery. The three pigs appear in Carhartt coveralls, bunny boots and red long johns and spend their summer camping and fishing.


Turnagain Ptarmigan, Where Did You Go?

By James Guenther

As the days shorten, its time to build their houses and they set out to accomplish the task before winter.

Dwyers illustrations add character to the story, especially the canned yams, drawn to resemble the ubiquitous Spam. Some readers may take exception to a huffing and puffing grizzly bear, but altogether, Alaskas Three Pigs works well.

Turnagain Ptarmigan, Where Did You Go? is written by James Guenther, a teacher in Ketchikan. Shannon Cartwright, who lives near Talkeetna, did the illustrations.

Turnagain Ptarmigan follows Alaskas state bird, the willow ptarmigan, through a cycle of change, beginning with winter.

A young girl asks Turnagain Ptarmigan, where did you go?

Look very carefully. Im here in the snow.

Four white ptarmigan hide on the page.

As the seasons progress and the ptarmigan change their plumage, Cartwrights artwork blends the birds into the seasonal background much as it occurs in real life.

The verse is melodic and serves the topic well.

This is a read-aloud book and young children will enjoy the rhyme and searching for the ptarmigan in each true-to-nature picture.

The author relates the concept of camouflage back to the young reader at the end with a picture of children in different colored and patterned clothing hiding in flowers, leaves and grass. The end notes contain a short factual essay on the willow ptarmigan.

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