Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Kindergarten-5. A Show Way is a quilt with secret meanings, and the image works as both history and haunting metaphor in this exquisite picture book. Based on Woodson's own history, the unforgettable story tells of African American women across generations, from slavery and the civil rights movement to the present. The cut-out jacket design is impressive, as is Talbott's mixed-media artwork inside, which extends Woodson's clear poetic narrative with beautiful collages that make use of big triangles, squares, and curves to emphasize portraits and landscapes and show connections and courage. The first double-page spread is of anguished separation when Soonie's great-grandmother is sold "without her ma or pa." Growing up on a plantation in South Carolina, Soonie learns from Big Mama about children "growing up and getting themselves free," and also how to sew quilts with signs that show the way to freedom. Time passes: Soonie's granddaughter, Georgiana, has twin girls who march for freedom in the 1960s. The final glorious spread shows Georgiana's granddaughter, Jacqueline Woodson, laughing at home with her own beloved daughter, Toshi Georgiana, whose picture is embedded in a quilt, connecting her with those who came before. A must for the classroom, this story will move many readers to explore their own family roots; link to the Booklist interview with Woodson , in which she talks about what she owes to those who came before her. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Classroom Implications: Woodson crafts a perfect text to introduce a study of family history in the classroom. This text inspires students to research their own family history. Tar Beach by Faith Ringold would make an excellent match with this text. This pairing opens the door to a parallel study on quilt making and community.

Skills and Strategies

  • Descriptive Language
  • Symbolism
  • Point of view
  • Characterization
  • Timelines of text


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