Show Way

( 7 )

Overview

Soonie's great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, and with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She pieced together bright patches with names like North Star and Crossroads, patches with secret meanings made into quilts called Show Ways -- maps for slaves to follow to freedom. When she grew up and had a little girl, she passed on this knowledge. And generations later, Soonie -- who was born free -- taught her own daughter how to sew beautiful ...

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Overview

Soonie's great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, and with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She pieced together bright patches with names like North Star and Crossroads, patches with secret meanings made into quilts called Show Ways -- maps for slaves to follow to freedom. When she grew up and had a little girl, she passed on this knowledge. And generations later, Soonie -- who was born free -- taught her own daughter how to sew beautiful quilts to be sold at market and how to read.

From slavery to freedom, through segregation, freedom marches and the fight for literacy, the tradition they called Show Way has been passed down by the women in Jacqueline Woodson's family as a way to remember the past and celebrate the possibilities of the future. Beautifully rendered in Hudson Talbott's luminous art, this moving, lyrical account pays tribute to women whose strength and knowledge illuminate their daughters' lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This affecting, poetic paper-over-board picture book stands out from the first glance. On the innovative cover, a montage of black-and-white pictures of African-American captives, arranged to resemble a quilt, act as a background to a diamond-shaped die-cut opening that frames the image of an African-American girl holding a lighted candle. Woodson's (Coming on Home Soon) story, both historical and deeply personal, begins as a seven-year-old girl is sold into slavery and taken to a South Carolina plantation "without her ma or pa but with some muslin her ma had given her." There she learns to "sew colored thread into stars and moons and roads that slave children grew up and followed late in the night, a piece of quilt and the true moon leading them." Later, her daughter also stitches quilts that become "a Show Way" to guide captives escaping to freedom. The quilt becomes a metaphor not only for physical freedom but for freedom of expression. Long after emancipation, subsequent generations of women in this family stay connected through quilting, using needle and thread as a means of support and as a creative outlet. Woodson eventually reveals that this is her own lineage, and "[her] words became books that told the stories of many people's Show Ways." Talbott uses the quilt motif in rousing ways, piecing together quotes or news items for a pair of spreads about one generation "walking in a line to change the laws" as well as in softly quilted patterns that tie together the love of a child, a theme throughout this elegantly designed volume. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Jacqueline Woodson won a 2006 Newbery-honor award for this picture book. It also deserved a Caldecott for the way Hudson Talbott's collages and watercolors express Woodson's poetic story of her family history. The story begins with Soonie's great-grandma who at seven was sold from her parents and left "with some muslin her ma had given her and two needles she got from the big house and thread dyed bright red with berries from the chokecherry tree." Stories and textiles unite in Soonie's mind and she sews quilts to guide her people to freedom. This story sets up a pattern of how fabric, tales, and familial love thread through Woodson's family tree, becoming "show ways" that first guide slaves to freedom and later become symbols of how each generation found courage to live brave, artistic, full lives. 2005, Putnam, Ages 6 up.
—Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5-Soonie's great-grandma was only seven when she was sold away from her parents in Virginia and sent to South Carolina. All she had was a piece of muslin from her mother, two needles, and bright red thread. She was raised by Big Mama, who cared for the plantation children and at night whispered stories of freedom. Big Mama taught great-grandma how to sew messages and directions into quilt patterns, a "Show Way." The quilt-making tradition is passed down through successive generations of women in the family. Finally, readers meet the narrator, who grew up to become a writer and tell "the stories of many people's Show Ways." A poignant trail at the end of the book shows eight generations of women and the author's baby painted against the background of quilt patterns. Show Way is a sophisticated book that introduces readers to the passage of time, family traditions, and the significance of quilts and their patterns in African-American history. The gorgeous, multimedia art includes chalk, watercolors, and muslin. An outstanding tribute, perfectly executed in terms of text, design, and illustration.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Show Ways are quilts with secret meanings-guides to freedom. In this beautiful volume, quilts are the connecting threads of the generations, from Soonie's great-grandmother, sold away from her Virginia home as a girl of seven, to Soonie's great-great-granddaughter Toshi, Woodson's daughter. It's a celebration of mothers-all of those strong women through the generations who "loved those babies up." Gorgeous multimedia art includes watercolors, chalk and fabric, photographs incorporated into original art and joyous watercolor figures jumping broom. Patchwork and crazy quilts are two common motifs used, the latter, with jagged stitching resembling railroad tracks, representing the harshest of times. Whether quilts were actual maps to freedom or such stories are simply folklore, quilts are a perfect device to portray the generations of a family. Like Deborah Hopkinson's Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (1993) and Under the Quilt of Night (2001) and Doreen Rappaport's Freedom River (2000), this takes a difficult subject and makes it accessible to young readers. One of the most remarkable books of the year. (Picture book. 5+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399237492
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 9/8/2005
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 130,057
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.39 (w) x 11.74 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson has received numerous awards for her middle-grade and young adult books, which include the National Book Award Finalist Hush and the Coretta Scott King Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Miracle's Boys.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2007

    Show a way to freedom

    This book was a Newbery Honor Book in 2006. It is appropriate for children ages 8-12. It is a historical fiction book which tells of slavery and how a quilt helps deliver some slaves to safety and freedom. It takes us through several generations to show how the quilt was significant in each period of time. I feel this book is very important for older children to read. I feel that the story and illustrations will help them to see how far our country has come. Freedom is very important and all people should be able to experience true freedom. This book was written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott. Ms. Woodson has written many books such as Locomotion and Other Side. Woodson, Jacqueline. Show Way. New York: G.P. Putnam¿s Sons, 2005.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2006

    This one-note book is comfortable with itself.

    Hudson Talbott's illustrations omit anything real about slavery or dignity. The book begins oddly by showing children in chains but what isn't shown is who's doing the chaining. Also, why is the principle character's mother and father so passive in her kidnapping? This book can't seriously be for 5 and up. Or even 8 and up. It clearly will lead to seperation anxiety. This is only the first two pages of this book, as it goes on, more cliches ensue, climaxing with an egotistical ending -- slavery happened to a large group of people, what about everyone else? Very disappointingly written and illustrated but I do think the right book will come to give children some sense of their history, culture, and self worth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2005

    A Beautiful Book

    I read this book to a class of fourth graders and they loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Journey Through Slavery - Show Way

    The fabrics of our lives are woven through the generations with rich history to be shared. Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson is a heartwarming and heart wrenching story all at once about Soonie's family and their plight across the generations in the quest for freedom. To learn of the struggles and successes individuals endured to ensure their eventual path to freedom has an inspiring stronghold across hundreds of years, one not to be forgotten.

    Immerse yourself in the elegant storytelling of Newberry Honor winner, Jacqueline Woodson, and be prepared to be mesmerized.

    The awe inspiring illustrations of Hudson Talbott will leave the reader emotionally satisfied.

    Personal note: I had the thrilling opportunity to listen to Jacqueline Woodson speak at the NY Winter SCBWI Conference in January where she read Show Way to the audience. Her writing is exhilarating while reading on your own, but to hear her in person is breathtaking. While I read, Show Way Ms. Woodson's voice echoed through my mind bringing chills throughout. The experience will stay with me forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2008

    Beautiful, emotional book

    This book, through both its original poetic lyrics and thought provoking illustrations, stirs the emotions of higher level thinkers, and is a must read for all elementary classrooms. Beautiful portrayal of the complexities of civil rights, seperation, and slavery, leaving the reader with many questions and a desire to know more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2007

    Family Stories

    What a wonderful way to pass down family stories from one generation to another.It's so important that other children understand how life was and is today and the choices we now have.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2006

    Third rate slam poetry

    Nothing orginal here, just lifted ideas from other poems about slavery paged out in book form.

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