Cloth Lullaby

The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois

Abrams Books for Young Readers
(published 3.1.2016)
40 pages

A True Tale
with A Cherry OTop 

A uthor: Amy Novesky
and Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault

C haracters: Louise Bourgeois

O verview from Abrams Books for Young Readers website:

"Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a world-renowned modern artist noted for her sculptures made of wood, steel, stone, and cast rubber Her most famous spider sculpture, Maman, stands more than 30 feet high.

Just as spiders spin and repair their webs, Louise's own mother was a weaver of tapestries. Louise spent her childhood in France as an apprentice to her mother before she became a tapestry artist herself. She worked with fabric through her career, and this biographical picture book shows how Bourgeois's childhood experiences weaving with her loving, nurturing mother provided the inspiration for her most famous works. With a beautifully nuanced and poetic story, this book stunningly captures the relationship between mother and daughter and illuminates how memories are woven into us all.".

T antalizing taste:

"Louise kept diaries of her days. And in a cloth tent pitched in the garden, she and her siblings would stay till the dark surprised them, the light from the house, and the sound of a a Verdi opera, far away through the trees.

Sometimes, they'd spend the night, and Louise would study the web of stars, imagine her place in the universe, and weep, then fall asleep to the rhythmic rock and murmur of river water.

The river provided flowers and fruit, a lullaby, and a livelihood.

Louise's family restored tapestries - art woven from wool - and the wool loved the tannin-rich water, which cleansed and strengthened it, and allowed it to soak up color."

and something more:  I feel so fortunate to have read, early on, a draft of Amy's amazing book in which she wove together her poetic evocative words. Amy shared with me what inspired her to write this book:  "The inspiration for this book came from a 2004 New York Times article about Louise Bourgeois’s cloth work. I immediately fell in love with her fabric odes, whose colorful graphic and tactile shapes resonated with me, and, I thought would with young readers. But I didn’t find my way into the story until years later when I discovered a monograph of her cloth work at the Sausalito Library. While the book was 12 years in the making (!), I wrote the story in a week."

I heartily concur with the New York Times review: "Novesky's writing is alert to young readers' voracious appetite for the aliveness of language. The story is strewn with beautiful, pleasantly challenging words ('indigo,' 'fragments,' trousseau'), words that have earned the right to make themselves at home in a child's imagination ... Cloth Lullaby is one of the loveliest picture books I've encountered - a tender homage to an extraordinary woman."


Linda B said...

I glanced at this book at a bookstore, should have sat down to read it through. I will get to it, know it's wonderful. Great review!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Linda,

Yes, I think you will very much enjoy it. Thanks so much for stopping by and your kind words.

Cathy Ballou Mealey said...

How lucky you were to read an early draft! It is so lovely. I pored over page after page. I (may) have turned all the copies at B&N face out so more readers could find it on the shelves in biography!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Oh Cathy, I just loved reading your comment about turning all the copies face out so others could read it! I'll be sure to tell Amy. Yes, I'm very lucky to read Amy's amazing words! Thanks for stopping by.

Kay said...

THis looks like a beautiful book about a fascinating woman. I am glad to have learned something today. Thank you

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Kay,
Yes, it's a truly beautiful book about a very interesting woman and artist.
Thanks for stopping by!

amy said...

Jeanne, thank you for the wonderful review!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

You're mot welcome Amy! Absolutely my pleasure to feature your lovely lovely book.

Cheriee Weichel said...

This sounds like a fabulous read. I'm going to keep my eyes open for it.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Cheriee,

Yes, I think you will indeed find it fabulous! Thanks for stopping by!

Books4Learning said...

I am always intrigued by the books you highlight. They are always beautiful and amazing! This one is no exception. It is not in my library yet, but I am hoping it will be soon.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thank you so much for your lovely compliment! I do so enjoy finding and featuring wonderful picture book biographies -- they always inspire me!

Annette Bay Pimentel said...

I am jealous that you got to see an early draft. The art in this book is beautiful, but it was the text that gob-smacked me. It is so lyrical and moving. I would have loved to watch its evolution to its final form!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Annette,
I love that -- "gob-smacked" by the text. And, yes, it's always a true pleasure to read Amy's words, but honestly her early drafts are very close to the finished version in the sense of truly lyrical and compelling. Thanks so much for stopping by!