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Stitch by Stitch

Stitch by Stitch

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly Sews Her Way to Freedom

Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon


Stitch by Stitch

About the Book

An awe-inspiring African American woman! A talented seamstress, born a slave, bought freedom for herself and her son.

This picture book biography weaves together historical details, vibrant collages, and the words of her own journals to bring to light the life and beautiful work Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, the seamstress who bought herself and son out of slavery. Lizzy’s story of hardship and resilience offers an untold side of history during a time of great injustice and change.

Born enslaved in 1818 on a Virginian plantation, Lizzy experienced and witnessed unspeakable cruelty. When she was sent to workfor a tailor, her wages went to her master, not Lizzy. However, the beautiful gowns that Lizzy created attracted the attention of the wealthiest women in Virginia, even Mrs. Jefferson Davis. With money from her patrons, Lizzy bought her freedom and her son’s freedom working tirelessly stitch by stitch, going on to design gowns for the First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and grow an influentialcareer.

This inspiring story about an unsung hero is beautifully illustrated with oil paint, cut paper and fabric collage and hand-embroidery by Elizabeth Zunon that brings Lizzy’s dresses to life. Connie Morrison writes with straightforward honesty and clarity, seamlesslyincluding research on fashion, life, and politics of the time. The backmatter includes a bibliography for further reading.

Product Details

On sale: December 5, 2023
Age: 7-10 years
Grade: Grades 2-5
Page count: 48 Pages
ISBN: 9780823456116
Reading level: Fountas/Pinnell: W

Author Bio

Connie Schofield-Morrison is a mother, author, and entrepreneur. She and her high school sweetheart Frank D. Morrison run an art gallery called Morrison Graphics in Atlanta, GA that Connie manages while also taking care of her children and writing books in her spare time. Stitch by Stitch is her first book with Holiday House.

Elizabeth Zunon is an illustrator of over ten picture books, including Stitch by Stitch, which is her first book with Holiday House. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a B.F. A. in Illustration. Drawing and painting have always been important to Elizabeth, whose love for the craft was fueled by the bright, vibrant colors of everyday West African fabrics and tropical vegetation.


★ "Quotes from Lizzy’s autobiography are scattered throughout the narrative, and are given a powerful presence on the page through the skillful use of text and font styles. Repetitive phrasing highlights the connection of her livelihood to her freedom. . . The illustrations are a remarkable collage of painted scenes that are combined with decorative paper, fabric, lace, ribbon, braid trim, and intricate embroidery. This creates a three-dimensional presentation that brings to life the creativity and craftsmanship of Lizzy’s dresses. . . An essential purchase that will strengthen all biography collections."—School Library Journal, Starred Review

★ "Schofield-Morrison fashions a poignant tribute. . . . Elizabeth Zunon’s breathtaking and masterful mixed-media illustrations—incorporating oil, paint, fabric, ribbon, paper, embroidery, and appliqué—beautifully capture the artistry of Keckly’s dresses. A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"This picture book biography centers the Black seamstress's indomitable spirit. . . . Schofield-Morrison offers accessible, starkly rendered prose. . . . Zunon embroiders Keckly's oft-difficult life story across lush, multilayered mixed-media spreads, featuring a beguiling tapestry of oil paint, paper, fabric, ribbon, embroidery, lace, and appliqué. . . ."—Publishers Weekly

"A handsome introduction to a remarkable woman and her craft."—The Horn Book

"In this picture book, the use of italics indicates quotes from Keckly’s memoir and differentiates them from Schofield-Morrison’s words. The interplay works well, offering Keckly’s viewpoint within an account that speaks to children today. Created with mixed media, including oil paint, paper, textured fabric, ribbon, appliqué, embroidery, and lace, Zunon’s handsome illustrations suggest the subject's times as well as her talents. A fitting introduction to a remarkable woman."—Booklist

"Every once in a while a book is published that is a game changer. This gorgeous book about the story of how Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly sewed her way to freedom is such a book. . . . The content is historical, inspiring, and presents each page as though it was a work of art. The illustrations are truly stunning. . . . Highly recommended for every library."—School Library Connection