|The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom
The wagon wheel. The bear's paw. The flying geese. These are some of the squares in the quilt Hannah's mama helped her to sew--before Hannah's sister was sold to another plantation and before Mama died of a broken heart. Now that Hannah's papa has decided to make the run for freedom, this patchwork quilt is not just a precious memento of Mama--it's a series of hidden clues that will guide them along the Underground Railroad to Canada, where they'll finally be free. A fictionalized account of a fascinating oral history, The Patchwork Path tells the story of a brave father and his young daughter, two of thousands who escaped a life of slavery and made the dangerous journey to freedom--a story of courage, determination, and hope.
Before I became an author of children's books, I had the most wonderful career I could imagine: bringing children, books and reading together. I spent many years as a School Library Media Specialist and finally began writing for magazines and newspapers. Reviewing children's books for a highly-regarded multicultural journal gave me the idea of trying to write books of my own.
I reached into my past for stories. I grew up among great-aunts, and uncles and extended family. An aged uncle taught me to read before I started to school, and he passed his love of reading along to me. I was somewhat of a loner, and the characters in the books he bought for me became my companions.
Though my own book characters exist as their own persons, I'm sure I draw upon my early childhood for ideas. Certainly, the southern landscapes in my books resemble the South in which I grew up. Certainly my stories are intergenerational.
Children often ask me if I'm one of the girls in my book, Down Home at Miss Dessa 's. Actually, I'm not, but the acts of kindness and the taking care of one another came right out of the teachings I received as a child. The Leaving is loosely built around a story I heard from a family member. Quilts and quilt patterns appear in Patchwork Path, A Quilt Map To Freedom, my latest book, because of the subject matter of this title. But I also remember snuggling under quilts as a child.
I was surprised early on to find my titles appearing on such lists a for Children on Philanthropy, Volunteerism, and Related Themes." But, actually, that's what I write.
I work hard at making my writing inspirational to children as they face the problems I write about. I try to convey to readers that they are not alone in facing hurdles, failures and disappointments. I want them to know all is never lost; there's always tomorrow. There's always hope.