I Lay My Stitches Down
Poems of American Slavery
Imprint: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
- Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) Nonfiction Honor List
- Bank Street College Best Children’s Books
- NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books
- PEN Steven Kroll Award Shortlist
- Kirkus Reviews (starred)
- School Library Journal (starred)
Brought to life by vivid, expressive artwork from Michele Wood, this stirring and eloquent book offers a timeless witness to the hardship endured by enslaved men, women, and children. Each poem is supplemented by historical information and notes on quilting, musical, and spiritual references in the text.
"Each of [Grady's] free-verse poems about the African slave experience consists of 10 lines of 10 syllables that, as laid out on the page, mimic the square shape of a quilt block. They also include three references — to spirituality, music, and fabric arts — that reflect the three layers of a quilt. . . . Wood's intricate illustrations reflect folk art motifs and vibrantly express the rich culture of African American slaves."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A powerful grouping of thought-provoking poems and brilliantly designed paintings."
School Library Journal (starred review)
"This ambitious work offers a bit of poetry, history, folk art, quilting, religion and more. It will definitely fill a niche in libraries."
The Horn Book
"A stunning achievement for both author and artist."
"Newcomer Grady's compact poems about the lives of slaves cover an emotional range from gossamer ("Like the wren's/ song, she hits the grace note just so") to leaden ("drag my heart clean/ out of my chest"). . . . The notes anticipate classroom use, where discussion will arise from the varied aspects of slavery — companionship between the master's children and slave children, early horse racing's domination by slave labor, and more — that Grady covers in this well-researched collection."
Christian Library Journal
"Grady does an excellent job of sensitively portraying the harsh realities of slave life through the heartbreaking beauty of poetry that is simple on the surface but complex and purposeful in structure, content, and theme. . . . This compilation of poetry is moving and rich in substance."