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Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria

Author: Kyra E. Hicks

Illustrator: Lee Edward Fodi

ISBN:  10: 1933285597:   13-1933285597

Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria is a wonderful children’s picture book that begs to be read aloud.

It is quite a feat to master the skill of employing just the right words that do not aim too high or too low and this is exactly what Kyra E. Hicks has accomplished as she effectively reaches her intended young audience. Her economical narrative presents the right amount of detail that keeps her readers interested with a style that is cut-to-the-chase concision.

Together with the bold and vibrant imaginative images of illustrator Lee Edward Fodi, Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria, narrates the true story of Martha Ann Ricks who was fortunate in having her father purchase her freedom when she was a slave on the Doherty Plantation in Eastern Tennessee.  Martha and her family eventually find their way to Liberia in 1830 with the help of the American Colonization Society.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the American Colonization Society or as they were more fully known as “The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America,” this was a group of individuals that in 1817 founded Liberia on the coast of West Africa. Their mission was to transport free blacks to Liberia in an effort to remove them from the United States. In fact, according to WikiPedia, the Society closely controlled the development of Liberia until 1847, when it was declared to be an independent republic. Apparently, by 1867, there were 13,000 settlers that were sent to Liberia and Martha and her family together with these settlers were provided with money and land to build their homes, plant crops, and schooling for the children.

What was quite noteworthy about Liberia at the time and what left a deep impression on Martha was that British Naval ships patrolled its coast to prevent slave catchers from kidnapping black folks and forcing them into slavery. This was the era of Queen Victoria and to Martha the Queen was her true friend as well as to the other black folks that inhabited Liberia. Consequently, Martha was determined to travel one day to England to personally thank the Queen. However, traveling three thousand five hundred miles would require money and for the next fifty years Martha carefully saved her pennies that she had earned by sewing clothes for her neighbors.

Martha also decided that she ought to present the Queen with a beautiful gift and just as she saved her pennies, she likewise devoted a considerable amount of her time in sewing an exquisite quilt. Eventually, Martha, who may have been ridiculed by some, did voyage to England where she met Queen Victoria and presented her with a beautiful quilt that she had worked on over many years. 

There is little doubt that Black history as well as the history of other oppressed minorities widely appeals to young readers, as it addresses their zeal for fair-mindedness and their longing for heroism. However, many of the non-fictional books relating to this topic focus on events that have transpired only in the United States. With Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria, we have a unique approach that introduces young readers to an individual and time frame in history that is rarely remembered. Moreover, Hicks has interwoven her own private passion for the craft of quilting and the personal history of an individual connected to this craft in a way that is gripping and rich in detail.

As for illustrator Lee Edward Fodi, his eye-friendly page design is crisp and colorful that transports the reader right into the heart of the story’s emotion and momentum.

Although, the book may be addressed to young readers, it can still be enjoyed by adults and it can also serve as a class project to further study the connection between Blacks in the USA and Liberia.


The above review was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN:  Retired Title Attorney: Editor & Publisher of Bookpleasures. Here are  Norm Goldman's Reviews  

To read Norm's Interview with Kyra E. Hicks CLICK HERE     

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