Monday, November 12, 2012

Book #317: Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts about Peace by Anna Grossnickle Hines

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The 28 poems in this collection focus on the theme of peace and are accompanied by beautiful, handmade quilts. Hines poems explore, question, and ponder the many aspects of peace between individuals, as well as worldwide.

Hines non-rhyming poems tackle the very large concept of peace with deftly chosen words. In some poems she focuses on familiar situations, such as making up after a fight with a sibling or choosing to play with the girl no one else will talk to on the playground, and how those small acts are in fact acts of peace. She also explores bigger topics such as the global interconnectivity of humans, words as weapons, and how soldiers who fight for peace can be affected by war. Poems vary in length from a few paragraphs to a handful of words. The illustrations, which were photographed and are presented in the book in the same scale as created, are impressionistic and vividly eye-catching. The quilts were created specifically for this book and the text is incorporated beautifully into the compositions. Children are frequently included in the quilts, which provides a visual entry point for kids. The quilts utilize silk-screened words and images of peacemakers, some very famous, like Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi, while others are less well known, such as Samantha Smith and Mattie Stepanek. End notes include short biographies of the 8 peacemakers featured in the illustrations, as well as information on the quilting community and some of the techniques used to create the illustrations.

Read the poem “Links,” which describes how two pebbles thrown into a pond create intersecting circles and then discuss the idea that one action can lead to many others. Bring a tub of water and a bunch of pebbles or marbles. Let the kids throw two pebbles into the tub and watch the ripples intersect. Remind kids that they don’t have to throw the pebbles, that just dropping them will create ripples. What does that say about our actions? If you can, bring in pebbles of different sizes. Notice how even the tiniest pebble still creates ripples. Follow up by making bubble paintings. Compare all the different ways the circles intersect.

The poem, “Dominoes” can easily be performed by a group. Assign each child to say one of the repetitions of “To another” and then have all the voices join together to finish the poem. Bring out some dominoes and have kids set up their own domino course. Talk about how fragile the course is and how each domino affects not just the one right next to it, but all the others as well.

In her guest post on the Poetry for Children blog, Jan Kirkland provides several extension ideas for this collection as a whole.

Read more about the inspiration, creation, and publication of this book on Hines’ website. You can also listen to Hines read some of the poems in the book trailer she created with her family.

If you are a fan of art quilts, check out Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts and Winter Lights: A Season in Poems in Quilts. Both feature poems and quilted illustrations by Hines.


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