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Review: Pocketful of Posies August 5, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.

This is a book that I would have read to pieces when I was in elementary school. Salley Mavor won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Picture book of 2011 for this gorgeous set of fabric collages.   Pocketful of Posies collects familiar and obscure nursery rhymes together and pairs them with elaborate and detailed visuals.  The collages fill each entire page, with no white or negative space. The text complements the image, sometimes appearing in a corner, around the edge of the image or following a line of embroidery.

If I had seen this book as an eight year old, I would have wanted the pictures to be ‘real’ and available to play with. Throughout the book appear children with painted faces made from wooden beads, sporting detailed clothing and flowers, teacups and trays of cakes in their hands. I probably would have also badgered my mother to somehow make me a fairy costume like the ones by Mary Mary quite contrary and the Daffy Down Dilly, with a scalloped collar, layered skirt and leaf necklace.

If I had seen this book as a ten or twelve year old, I would have wanted to imitate it. Mavor incorporates natural materials such as driftwood and acorn cups into many of the collages, as well as wire, beads and buttons. I probably wouldn’t have chosen nursery rhymes, but I’m sure I would have tried to dress tiny dolls as book characters or fairies from my imagination and attempted to put them on a fabric background. At least until the embroidery thread tangled and I lost patience with the sewing.

This would be a lovely choice for a baby gift or a bedtime story. Children will look at each page again and again to find all the tiny details, and choose their favorite images. Mavor has achieved something special with this book, not just because of the labor and time that clearly went into all the carefully stitched images, but because of how her choice of medium conveys a love and appreciation for handmade art and tactile beauty.



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