Wednesday, November 09, 2016

"Love in Every Stitch" Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

I recall a box of rags that someone gave us...

There were rags of many colors.

But every pieces was small.

And I didn't have a coat.

It was way down in the fall.

Even the worn hand-me-down britches little Dolly wore to school had patches, but that wasn't unusual back in the Tennessee hills in those days. But in Dolly's big family, one year there was no spare coat to pass down to her.

It was then that her mama turned to her rag box. None of the bits and pieces were big enough to use to make her a coat. But where there's a will, there's a way. Every mountain woman knew how to piece a quilt, and Dolly's mama surely did, too.

Mama sewed the the rags together.

Sewed every piece with love.

She made a coat of many colors

That I was so proud of.

As she sewed, Mama told Dolly the Biblical story of Joseph's many-colored coat, and little Dolly was proud and eager to wear her new coat to school.

But when she arrived at her school in her patchwork coat, she was met with stares and pointing, and even jeers from some of the students, who thought her coat was fit only for a scarecrow. Although Dolly's feelings were hurt, she still loved that coat, made with love.

And out of that memory the grown-up Dolly Parton also made her own "Coat of Many Colors," a famous song about that experience that helped people understand how she felt when she was bullied as a child.

Now I know we had no money

But I was rich as I could be

In my coat of many colors,

My mama made for me.

With the currently little-heard theme that love is worth more than possessions, the words to Parton's song in her just published picture book, Coat of Many Colors (Grosset and Dunlap, 2016), have a message worth hearing. Parton's sweet story, illustrated in a soft, loving pastel palette by Brook Boynton-Hughes, is a good read-aloud about the value of love shown in non-materialist ways. Says Kirkus Reviews, "Tender and heartfelt with a loving message."

Pair this one with Simms Taback's Caldecott-winning Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott Medal Book) or Phoebe Gilman's Something From Nothing, both stories of a loving grandfather who turns his ragged blanket into a coat for little Joseph and successively smaller garments as he grows, both stories of how family love is what really keeps us warm in this world.

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