Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt


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An inspiring tale of creativity and determination on the Underground Railroad from Coretta Scott King Award winner James Ransome and acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson.

Clara, a slave and seamstress on Home Plantation, dreams of freedom—not just for herself, but for her family and friends. When she overhears a conversation about the Underground Railroad, she has a flash of inspiration. Using scraps of cloth from her work in the Big House and scraps of information gathered from other slaves, she fashions a map that the master would never even recognize. . . .

From the award-winning author-illustrator team of Deborah Hopkinson and James Ransome, this fictional tale of the Underground Railroad continues to inspire young readers 25 years after its original publication.

"Inspiring."The New York Times

"A triumph of the human spirit." Publishers Weekly, starred review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679874720
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/28/1995
Series: Reading Rainbow Books
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 98,597
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.18(d)
Lexile: AD680L (what's this?)
Age Range: 3 - 7 Years

About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson has written many acclaimed picture books, including A Letter to My TeacherSky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book; and Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book. She lives in Oregon with her family. Visit her at deborahhopkinson.com.

James Ransome is the illustrator of many award-winning titles for children, including The Creation by James Weldon Johnson, which won a Coretta Scott King Award for illustration, and Let My People Go: Bible Stories Told by a Freeman of Color by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, winner of an NAACP Image Award. His other titles include This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, Young Pelé: Soccer's First Star by Lesa Cline-Ransome, and Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson. He lives in New York. Visit him at jamesransome.com.

Customer Reviews

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
julieah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Clara is a young slave who works as a seamstress. Overhearing other slaves talk of the way to freedom, Clara creates a patchwork quilt that can guide others to freedom. When Clara escapes, she leaves the quilt in hopes of saving others as well. This book is a good introduction to a unit on slavery. Slavery is a difficult topic to talk to very young children about, which makes this book a nice way to get children thinking about the idea without showing them the horrors at a young age. The oil paintings are beautiful but sometimes seem too beautiful for the words printed on the page. Overall it was a well-written book and an inspiring story for young children.
Stephanyk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book would be appropriate for the fourth and fifth grade. There is a lot of dialogue and writing on each page that may be harder for younger students to follow along. The story is about a slave girl named Sweet Clara who has to leave her mother to work on a Plantation at a young age. She always dreams about reuniting with her mother again. One day she hears people talking about the Underground Railroad and how they help slaves runaway. The only problem is that they do not have a map. So, Sweet Clara begins to create a map by making a quilt. She carefully listens in on conversations to hear about where certain fields and rivers are. At the end she memorizes the quilt and finds her way to her mother and freedom. Uses in classroom:- Lesson on slavery.-Teach children to make a map.- The class can make quilt. Each student will design a part of the quilt by sewing something special to them on it.
mlboliver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt," written by Deborah Hopkinson, is a story about a young girl, Clara, who is taken from her home and placed as a slave. Clara is placed as a laborer with a boy named Jack. They become close friends and pass time away by talking about running back home. While working at the Big House, Clara is introduced to adult slave, Rachael, whom is calls her aunt because she looks after Clara. Clara struggles to work in the fields, and Rachael feels sorry for her, so she teachers how to sew so she can work in the big house as a seamstress. While working as a seamstress, Clara listens to all the hustle and bustle about in the house. She learns of people escaping and begins to ask questions about where people are going. Clara learns people are going to Canada to escape slavery. While thinking about escaping, Clara thinks of an idea to help her escape. She decides to set back scrap material and sew a quilt as a map of the escape route.People help Clara with details of the route. She used different patterns and colors as marks of different areas leading to Canada. A couple years pass by, and Clara finishes her quilt and she and Jack leave on their escape. On the way to Canada, Clara and Jack pick up her mother and sister,and one can assume that Clara and her family, plus Jack, make it to Canada safely. This story is heartbreaking. To think that people were actually slaves is hard for me to fathom. The character of Aunt Rachael is somewhat humbling considering the situation. Hopefully, every slave child had an Aunt Rachael, but I know that isn't realistic, just hopeful thinking. Children should read the story of Clara to better understand history and what African-Americans endured. "Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt" could be used to illustrate the importance of not giving up, and the importance of using your mind to solve issues. I think this book would be instrumental when discussing the history of slavery with a classroom. Furthermore, maybe the teacher could launch a craft project with this book. For instance, the teacher could give children a large piece of construction paper and ask them to create their own quilt.
amymonjeau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Clara that moves into her aunt Rachel's house, they work as slaves for the people in the big house. Her aunt teaches clara how to make a quilt . clara and her brother walk off the plantation to deliver the freedom quilt to their mother. Understanding how slaves delt with not having any freedom. making a quilt is time consumed and have to be really good at make a quilt . Using this in the classroom for students, having them color a page of a quilt and what their quilt meanings to them.
anita.west on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sweet Clara and The Freedom Quilt is special story about a little girl and her journey to freedom. Clara was a slave; she was torn from her family and sent off to work for a new master. Clara found her talent as a seamstress and used her skill and wit to create a map of the land. Her map to others was simply a patterned quilt but to her it is a map to freedom and a way to reconnect with her family.This is a very humbling story. It allows the reader to step back in time and hear about what life must have been like for slaves. The pictures are beautiful and really help tell the story. Though I have never experienced anything like sweet Clara, reading this book and others like it help me to connect and relate to these historical times.This book would be a wonderful addition to a classroom library. I envision having my students participate in making a freedom quilt of their own. A quilt to tell their story just as Clara did. I also would use this story to help teach the children about the Underground Railroad. It would be neat to read this story and Moses together and then have a discussion on slavery and freedom.
berethalindsey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sweet Clara is about a girl that is taken from he mother to wrok in a cotton field. She does not perform well as a field worker. Clara becomes a seametress. She dreams of a way to go make to her mother's loving house. How could she have a map with out being obvious. Clara begins to make a special quilt, it is a map. Her master never realize the little girl was smart enough to create a map on a quilt. She and several other slaves follow the quilt directions to escape to the Underground Railroad.The story is heart felt. The subject matter of slavery is to be discussed with sensitivity.Classroom Extensions1. The teacher have the students to research online about how quilts canhave different meanings2. The class can make a quilt that has the different school organizations on it.
tg172415 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book about a young slave girl who is separated from her family and is taken to work in the fields of a plantation. She soon discovers that fieldwork is not for her, and is permitted to work in the house, helping with the sewing and mending. She begins to hear conversations about others who have escaped their plight, and comes up with a brilliant idea: she uses the leftover scraps of cloth from her sewing to begin to make her own quilt...a map that will lead her to her family and then to freedom. From the conversations she hears about the layout of the surrounding land, she meticulously creates her quilt. Upon its completion, she flees to find her family and leads them all to freedom. Having memorized its every detail while making it, she leaves the quilt behind for others to likewise memorize and reach safety. I really enjoyed this book. This story lends itself particularly well to both history and art lessons. It would be especially appropriate to use it for language arts in an integrated lesson on the Civil war, specifically when dealing with the issues of the horrors and injustices of slavery at that time. After reading this book to my class we would take a field trip to a plantation house, touring the grounds and learning the surrounding history. We would concentrate especially on the places where the slaves were made to live and work. Upon returning to the classroom, I would break students into small groups and have them each choose a topic connected to slavery. We would take time in the library to research topics (which might include slave auctions, living conditions, working conditions, etc.). I would allow them to share what they've learned with the class through a descriptive presentation, re-enactment, or any other creative method. As a closing activity.I would even have an African-American storyteller who specializes in period folklore to come make a presentation to the class.
Betsy21 More than 1 year ago
This is a very wonderful book. I would read this to my own children. I love how Clara is smart enough to be able to use cloth to make a map quilt to help her find her mom and find freedom. I also love the pictures in this book. It is a very sweet book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book about slavery, but it is told from the point of view of a young slave named Clara. She craftily gets pieces of cloth to create a map to freedom. My third graders loved the book and the illustrations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A wonderful companion to UNDER THE QUILT OF NIGHT by the same author and illustrator.