________________ CM . . . . Volume 21 Number 20 . . . . January 30, 2015


Anna May’s Cloak.

Christiane Cicioli. Illustrated by Susan Pearson.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-897476-81-9.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4


Simply Read books has published another in its line of literary picture books. Christiane Cicioli, the author, is originally from Quebec while artist Susan Pearson is an illustrator living in Vancouver.

     The Jewish folkloric theme of a garment made and re-made (think Sim Taback’s Joseph and His Little Overcoat or Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman), is revisited in Anna May’s Cloak.

     Anna May receives the gift of a soft, flowy blue cloak from her grandmother who has sewn it herself. Successive generations enjoy the fabric as a dress and then a jacket.

The next morning Anna May gave her grandson a handsome blue jacket. The jacket was a perfect fit. It whished as the sleeves rubbed against his sides. It made him feel like a king! Anna May’s grandson loved the jacket so much he wore it all the time, until he outgrew it. But he never forgot it.

     A great grandson gets a hat with matching mittens, and finally there is only enough of the original material left to make quilted bookmarks for daughter, grandson and great grandson, embroidered “Love always, Anna May”.

     The story ends with a spread of a busy dress shop, with someone at a sewing machine in the window. Anna May’s great-great-granddaughter is plying her trade as a seamstress in Anna May’s “cozy old house”.

Rat-a-Rat-a-Rat goes her sewing machine. Sometimes she sews well into the night. Her children and customers love to hear the fabric whoosh, swoosh, whish and shish. Her sewing makes them fell like royalty!

     Soft watercolours which often focus on busy hands fashioning the various pieces of clothing suit the sentimental text. I have one quibble with the illustrations in that the pictures do not reflect the passage of the decades as well as they might. A number of pages have borders of flowers and seeds which reinforce the old-fashioned feeling.


Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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