Emmy Blue Hatchett is about to embark on the greatest adventure of her short life. The 10-year-old, her parents and aunt and uncle are leaving their homes in Illinois and setting out for Golden, Colo.
The year is 1863 and just over four years have passed since gold had been found in the Rocky Mountains. But the Hatchetts aren’t moving for the gold, they’re moving to capitalize on the situation. Emmy’s father and uncle plan to build a business block where they can house stores, hotels, restaurants and offices.
It’s an exciting move, though Emmy and her Ma have mixed feelings about leaving their friends and family behind. There are many compromises to be made before setting out on the Overland Trail to their new home, but the two make the best of it and are ready to leave when the time comes.
The trip is long and full of hardships. Day after day walking alongside wagons can be arduous and boring. Luckily, Emmy’s grandmother gave her a special gift before she left home, something that will occupy Emmy’s time and change her mind about the power of a quilt.
“The Quilt Walk” is an understated book that has more to it than first meets the eye. Author Sandra Dallas allows her story to unfold through Emmy’s eyes. And there’s a lot to see. Like most children, Emmy is more observant than many would expect. During their trek, Emmy comes to see her parents and other adults in a new light. The issues women faced during this time period are not hidden, neither is the physical abuse a new bride suffers. It is important to note that these situations are handled carefully and sensitively, though some parents may feel the need for further dialogue.
Like her previous fictional books, Sandra’s first novel for young readers focuses on relationships at many levels. Themes of loyalty, friendship and perseverance appear in recognizable patterns within the large scope of this piece.
“The Quilt Walk” is a gentle read with moments of boldness. There’s nothing over the top or ultra fancy here. That’s why the book works so well. There’s no pretense, just the truth as Emmy and Sandra see it. Though fiction, one can easily place the emotions and experiences in history and know them to be true to the spirit of those who settled the West.
*Read Cracking the Cover’s interview with Sandra Dallas.
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