Thursday, July 29, 2021

Selina And the Bear Paw Quilt--Quilting in Children's Literature

This is a book of historical fiction about a Mennonite family who left their Pennsylvania home during the US Civil War to emigrate to Canada.

Smucker, Barbara. Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt. Illustrated by Janet Wilson. Crown, 1995. ISBN: 978-0517709047

The book begins with an author's Introduction explaining the historical setting for the book. Pacifist Mennonites in the United States were believed disloyal by both the North and the South because they would not participate in the War. As a result, they were the victims of religious persecution and violence. Many Mennonite families left the US to settle in Canada. This is the story of one of those families.

Selena watches her mother quilt by the light of the oil lamps.

Selina's grandmother makes a Bear Paw quilt from fabric which includes scraps of family clothing scraps. As she works, she tells Selina the stories represented by the fabrics.


Selina and her grandmother with the Bear Paw quilt


Selina's parents make plans to move to Canada away from the War. They are sad to leave their farm, and even more sad that Grandmother will not be going with them. Grandmother explains, "I am old now, too old to start my life again," and she will be staying behind to live with her brother and his family. 

Selena meets her Canadian Uncle's family


As a going-away gift, Grandmother gives Selina the Bear Paw quilt top. When the family reaches Canada, Selina shows it to the branch of her family already living there, and discovers that her quilt and theirs have pieces in common. Plans are made to finish the Bear Paw quilt, and it will be for Selina's bed in the family's new home.


Showing the quilt to her new family


Janet Wilson's illustrations in the book are warm and lovely, and they are bordered by many different quilt patterns. The endpapers show examples of Bear Paw blocks. The back of the book is a legend for the quilted borders of the pages.


Back cover of book


In this picture book, we have a quilt as representative of family connection and of the comfort of the familiar in a new place or situation.

Happy Quilting! 😸

A reminder--you can find my posts on Quilts in Children's Literature by clicking "Children's Literature" in the list of labels on the right-hand pane of this blog.

NOTE: I found my books used from I can highly recommend this site. Not only do they always have free shipping, but they also contribute a book to someone in need for every book you buy. I was not compensated for this recommendation--I just love doing business with them.

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Happy Quilting,
The Eclectic Abuela