Home > books, City mama, philanthropy, philosophy > I just read what might be the dumbest book ever

I just read what might be the dumbest book ever

One of my cousins, for Christmas, bought The Child a beautiful book called The Quiltmaker’s Journey. I’d been getting into quilting and even made a small quilt for her newborn son the year before, so it was a thoughtful gift. And the illustrations were truly stunning. Not my favorite style, but lovely.

I’d seen the author on Simply Quilts. I didn’t remember much about the episode other than I didn’t like the block they chose — the rosebud block, which was paper pieced. Paper piecing is WAY past any skill level I’ll ever reach.

Weirdly, I never got around to reading the book. That should have said something right there. Maybe I did and got annoyed and never picked it back up, I dunno. But tonight The Child picked it as one of her three going-to-bed books so I sat down to read it.

It’s just…. dumb.

The main character is a girl who is incredibly rich and wonderful. She’s brave and strong and has good friends. Her parents die (without a ripple in the story or the girl’s mood) and leave her the biggest fortune in the town! So big that she runs out of things to buy! Which is impressive because she lives in a town where everyone is rich and wonderful. But the town Elders tell them never to leave the town because it’s surrounded by horrible dreadful terrible things.

But she feel sad and empty, nonetheless. Her friend, the seamstress, teaches her to make little things from cloth, one day sees that she’s unhappy and tells her that she will find her way soon enough.

Of course one day she goes outside… through a secret tunnel (guarded by six sleeping guards! Don’t know which is dumber: to guard a secret hidden tunnel that no one knows about or to hire morons that fall asleep.) Her candle goes out, because apparently she only brought one, and then magic candles light her way.

Outside she discovers, of course, poverty. A town so poor that people slept on the street and cried from hunger. Instead of turning around and going back to get some of her stuff to feed, clothe, and care for these people, the girl starts to walk. She walks for days in her big beautiful white silk gown. And, of course, the stupid git hadn’t brought food or blankets so these poor people, starving unto death, had to feed the bint. And, of course, they gave up their food happily. A junkman hands her a perfect rose, the only thing he owns of value. A girl gives up her only shoes when Her Nibbs’s slippers fall to pieces. All the poor people are cheerful, loving, and not at all resentful.

Finally, she realizes that “HEY! I should go back to my rich house and get some stuff to help these people!” But she’s lost (moron) and takes forever to get back. When she does get back, she marches straight up to the Elders (who all look like Victorian caricatures) and tells them whatfor. They scold her and say that if she leaves they will take away all of her stuff!

So she marches away with nothing but her clothes and a ring from her dead mother. Not even a coat. She wanders, hungry and alone, blah blah blah, finds some apples and instead of eating them, she gives them away. Instead of feeling hungry, she felt happier and more full than ever! Giving things makes her happy!

But she has nothing to give! She can’t help fix a house, she can’t catch fish… oh, there’s a mom and a son sleeping cold without a blanket. She sells her ring, buys cloth and thread and needles and then wanders up to the top of some godforsaken (but beautifully drawn) mountain to make a quilt. A cheerful happy warm quilt. And the sun shines upon her and the animals bring her food and the birds all make an umbrella of their wings if it rains. (Just think about the poop!)

Then she sneaks over and wraps the mother and child in the quilt (and it really is a lovely quilt) and realizes that this is her gift and spends the rest of her life making and giving away quilts to those in need. No mention of how she gets more thread or cloth or whatnot.

I think I understand the message that the author was trying to convey. But it’s so badly done that I think that book may got to the shelf of “bad books” never to be seen again. I tried to explain the problems to The Child while we were reading it: “She’s going to go exploring. Should she go exploring without proper provisions? No food or warm clothes?” But there are so many problems that I just don’t think it’s useful even as a discussion point.

All that said, I may keep it in among my quilt books because I really love that quilt.

  1. April 9, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    i read it when it first came out. BIG MISTAKE!
    i should have just looked at the pictures and the quilts. the companion book on quilting is beautiful, but the plot in this ‘modern classic’ just shows how easily people ate taken by pretty. i wanted to shake some sense in to the ignorant princess. get a copy of ‘the paperbag princess’ by robert munch. it’ll make you smile. The Child, too.

    hey. wasn’t that the point of an earlier blog? that pretty is NOT always an advantage?

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