Monday, April 28, 2008

Winter Lights

Author/Illustrator: Anna Grossnickle Hines

Published By: Greenwillow Books, 2005

Genre: picture book, poetry, multicultural

Age Range: Grades 2-4

This collection of poems describes the different lights that can be seen during the winter such as the light caught in an icicle, holiday lights on houses, lights from different winter holiday traditions such as Santa Lucia, or the menorah, and many more. This book does a good job of describing lights from many different cultures that make up American culture, not just those of Western culture.

The main thing that made this book stand out for me, though, was the fact that all of the illustrations are quilted! Thats right, not drawn or painted, but made of pieces of fabric quilted together to make beautiful and intricate scenes. One of my favorites is a scene that looks like luminaries lining a pathway to a house. The lights stand out so brightly against the dark background and their are other warm colored clothes surrounding the luminaries to look like the light falling on the ground around them. Absolutely beautiful!!

This collection of poems could be used in the classroom during the winter months and would be a good way to incorporate the many different cultural traditions that occur in the winter. Students could also learn about quilting and the traditions that go along with it. Quilting is a craft that has been important in many areas of the world to show heritage, and different patterns represent different things such as where a person or family is from. Quilting also often brings people together because women would get toghether to work on quilts and became a social thing for them. Hines ends her books with an explanation of how she made some of her designs. She learned quilting from her mother and has really turned it into an artform. I think it is important to show these types of artistic expression because often fiber arts are lumped into the craft category and not given as much recognition. Some people believe that this lack of recognition is due to the fact that often the creaters of these types of art were women so their accomplishments were not as valued as the paintings or sculpting done by men. Students could try designing their own quilt patterns to represent them or scenes that they connect with. This could also provide an opportunity to bring in an artist or craftsperson who knows how to quilt to teach the students.

Check out this website: it explains some of the traditions behind each of the lights described in "Winter Lights" and how Hines accomplished her illustrations. Click Me!

This is Hines second book of Poems and Quilts. Her first is called "Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts" and won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children's Poetry in 2002.

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