CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 12. . . .November 21, 2014
Arlene is a little girl who learns to sew by observing her mother sew dresses and blouses for her, using velvet “as red as a Valentine and as soft as a puppy”, and silk “as blue as Arlene’s eyes and as soft as water”. Arlene makes doll clothes and accessories from the scraps left over from her mother’s projects. Then, “When Arlene grew up, she had a baby girl, and a baby boy, and ANOTHER baby girl and ANOTHER baby boy. Arlene was busy, but she still liked to sew.” She makes clothing for the children, and the remnants provide materials for a teddy bear and a hand-made doll and a stuffed elephant which are treasured by the recipients. As a grandmother, she makes more toys and, finally, quilts for all the grandchildren, using pieces of many previously-shown fabrics. Then she decides that she is “tired of making things” and takes retirement from sewing. The last picture shows her sitting on a dock looking out on a peaceful lake at sunset. Because this is the only time readers have seen Arlene since the childhood pictures of her in red velvet and blue silk, it is hard to think of her as something more than an abstraction.
The story has a pleasant, if unexciting, flow. I feel as if I have read it before. The author’s sister, Karen Reinikka, has provided workmanlike watercolour illustrations which incorporate her colours into some of the text.
This book, from another small Ontario publisher, is a labour of love which could be based on the creators’ own experience. Marianne Jones has written a story with an old-fashioned feel about an adult “who wasn’t always a great-grandma”. The use of the term “great-grandma” is a little confusing, as the book refers to children and grandchildren, but not a generation after that.
Recommended with Reservations.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.