Sashiko's Stitches

Author, artist, and designer Sanae Ishida melds her literary talents (Little Kunoichi) with her sewing prowess (Sewing Love) to create the exquisitely empowering picture book Sashiko's Stitches.

Sashiko is overwhelmed by "so many feelings" that sometimes all she can do is cry. Her mother embraces the girl, then reminds her about the origins of her name. Sashiko goes back "many, many hundreds of years" to when families of hardworking Japanese fishermen mended their damaged clothing using "tiny little stitches." Repeated repairs resembled beautiful patterns, so the menders began purposefully creating distinct designs, calling the stitches "sashiko," meaning "little pierces." Sashiko's mother teaches her "One stitch. Two stitches. Three stitches," until Sashiko is sewing every day: "She stitches her small and big fears, and they start to feel less scary."

Ishida is a masterful storyteller, symbiotically pairing words and images. She writes of Sashiko's feelings as "big heavy clouds, weighing her down into the ground"; Ishida's inviting, saturated watercolor illustrations ingeniously underscore Sashiko's emotional overload by engulfing her in darkened swirls, her sunken legs trapped by burrowing animals and tangled roots. Ishida adroitly presents Sashiko's gradual, determined emotional mending through her first cautious stitches on small pieces of cloth, to eventually creating a protective, comforting quilt enabled by "the love and care of sashiko." The story is appended with further information about sashiko, including common patterns. "One stitch at a time," Ishida skillfully ushers Sashiko's journey toward calming recovery. --Terry Hong

Powered by: Xtenit