By: Stephanie Shaw
Illustrated by: Sylvie Daigneault
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: July 2017
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: August 22, 2017
A talented weaver, beautiful memories, a dream to better the lives of her children and a cruel shopkeeper all come together in the wonderful new children’s book, Piece By Piece.
As the story opens, we meet a weaver who is collecting memories along a beach while her three children play near the water’s edge. The weaver puts the memories – “the crunch of leaves, the springiness of moss, the leap and splash of a fish” – into her collection basket. That night, as her children sleep, the weaver sits at her loom and weaves the day’s memories into her fabric.
The next day, the children ask their mother about the different fabrics she has made:
“Tell us where this came from.”
The weaver held a piece of fabric to her nose. “Ah.” She smiled. “The sweetness of a puppy!”
“The breath of a hot air balloon as it floats against a morning sky, and the squish of mud between your toes.”
The weaver soon has a beautiful dress she’s made from the “memory” fabrics and she is hopeful that the shopkeeper in the village will pay a good price for the dress. With that money, she plans to buy food, shoes, and perhaps even a few treats for her three children. Unfortunately, the shopkeeper is a curmudgeon who does not appreciate the beautiful memories woven into the lovely dress. First he demands that the weaver remove the top that has “starlight and candle glow,” woven into it, and when the weaver returns the next day, he, and his wife, say that other parts of the dress must be removed if they are to sell it. They’re convinced that the memories woven into the dress are utter nonsense. Soon, there is nothing left but a small piece of fabric that holds “…the wishes from a dandelion on a summer’s day.” Heartbroken, the weaver leaves the shop, as her dreams seem to float away…
Piece By Piece is a lovely children’s fairy tale (with a happy ending) about reaching for your dreams. With just a little bit of magical flair thrown in to capture the imagination of young readers, the story moves along at a perfect pace. I’ve included more quotes from the story than I typically do to show the reader that the author has a real talent for writing descriptive lines that truly bring the magic of the story to life. Add in the truly beautiful illustrations and you have the makings of a new classic fairy tale.
Quill says: I loved everything about this book. Borrowing a few lines from the story that the author used to describe the weaver’s fabrics, I’d like to use them here to describe this book: “It was rich. Exquisite. Unique.”