One of the things I often love about books not published in the U.S. is how they clearly put an author and/or illustrator’s obsessions on display. In contrast, U.S. picture books can feel a little too similar or too familiar.
BUT, surprise!!! This book WAS written and published in the U.S. and is a testament to the author and illustrator’s passions and the dedication of an editor to do this brilliant manuscript justice. I’m just sorry that my photos are lacking.
Bobbin and heddle,
foot pedal, no slack.
This is the rhythm of the weaver’s loom, the lines and rhythm that open and close the narrative. It’s an inspired way to enter into the world of weaving, a world that thrives on the creativity of the weaver, even as the process is one of familiar repetition.
The child narrator is weaving and as she weaves, her body listens to and feels the rhythm of the loom while she imagines weaving through the history of those who came before her. The reader travels with the girl to see silk spinning and weaving in ancient China, cloth spun for Egyptian pharoah shrouds, textiles on the Iberian peninsula and more. It’s a fascinating journey through time and around the world, accompanied by a curious purple cat. I love the addition of the cat for young readers, and I smiled when it found balls of string or yarn to play with.
Along the way, readers also learn about the implements used for weaving, that are then described in more detail in the back matter, along with an in depth description of the locations and types of textiles included in the book.
I particularly love Katey Howes’ author’s note about how she and the illustrator worked to celebrate and honor the ancient tradition of weaving by creating their own tapestry with words and images. And that “like most fabrics, it may have weak spots…” But if there are weak spots in this book, I didn’t see them. That said, aren’t imperfections a sign that a work of art has been made by a human being, not by a machine? That someone experiencing a work of art should feel the hand of the artist in the work? Humans are perfect in our imperfections are we not?
And fittingly, Howes concludes her note by saying:
“Reader: I imagine that your pattern and purpose are unfolding, too….Like me, you probably don’t know yet how you will turn out. But you are certainly a work of art, tied to the world by many threads, your warmth and strength and beauty growing to the rhythm of the loom…”
The illustrator, Dina Mirtalipova (born and raised in Uzbekistan), spent three years buried in research, and the meticulously rendered illustrations in intricate patterns are a testament to her diligence. One of the weaving traditions she includes is a woven ikat robe that is part of a bride’s traditional dowry in Uzbekistan. Another shows the weaving traditions of the Coastal Salish and a thank you and acknowledgement for the use of a Musqueaum pattern in the book. Folks, this is a visual and cultural treat!
Weave a wall hanging. Try these other weaving activities.
Write a poem that resembles weaving in some way. Perhaps take the rhythm of the short poem that starts this book, and change the words while keeping the rhythm. Or, write a poem using the vocabulary of weaving used in this book. Or, perhaps you could write words on strips of paper and then weave the strips together to make a poem.
Pair this book with Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. How are the two books similar? How are they different? Can you find old articles of clothing of your own and make something new from them, too?
Title: Woven of the World
Author: Katey Howes
Illustrator: Dinara Mirtalipova
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2023
Ages: Elementary School
Themes: weaving, world cultures, traditions
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.
14 thoughts on “Woven of the World – Perfect Picture Book Friday”
Gorgeous! Another good pb pairing to discuss honoring traditions and the power of sharing stories through craft: “Story Quilts: Appalachian Women Speak,” words by Shannon Hitchcock, illustrated by Sophie Page. Thanks!
I just took a look at the preview for Story Quilts. Love what I saw of the text and the illustration style! Thanks for the rec for another pairing!
Great point you make to open the post – on creativity of the author and illustrator. This is a book I have to see as a writer, but also as a weaver 🙂 Thanks for sharing this treasure!
This book made me want to try weaving for the visual, tactile, and auditory experience. Plus, the back matter provides so much fascinating cultural information. Years of labor to make sure all of these details were accurate. It’s astounding how much time and love goes into a book like this. (And like yours, Beth.)
I love that the girl’s imagination allows readers to travel the world with her as she invisions all those who have gone before her. I love weaving, so this would appeal to me. And I also like foreign books, because they seem to have less restrictions and can sometimes be quite quirky. I am glad Chronicle took a chance on this story. And, I love the title and cover! Lovely share today!
Thanks, Patricia! Although I’m not a weaver, it seems like weaving would be a meditative activity that lends itself to this kind of imaginative journey. I think you’ll enjoy reading it!
Love the illustrations! And Cloth Lullaby is a great pairing choice!
Yes, to me, the color palette makes it quite striking, even from a distance. Cloth Lullaby remains one of my all-time faves.
I admit, I like anything from Arsenault!
Yup! I’m on team Arsenault, too, LOL.
This looks so interesting!
It’s beautiful and fascinating, a terrific combination!
Great choice for PPbF as always! This one was already on my list.
Yay! I think you’ll love it!