Patchwork Prince

Dial. Oct. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593463444.
Gr 1-5–Vividly colored illustrations help tell the story of a boy who lives in the island country of St. Lucia, who learns to be a prince when his mother takes him to pull fabric out of the trash where big corporations dump the clothes. To discourage people from taking things from the trash, the drivers set it on fire. Before this happens, the narrator and his mother take a few pieces home, where she turns the fabric into clothing; he proudly describes the colors she sews into a regal patchwork robe for him: black for beauty, green for life, red for strength, and more. The boy is proud of his mother for making the clothing and happy to wear it, imagining himself to be special. The illustrations convey every joyful moment, from the adventure of the visit to the dump to the assembling of the garment and the child’s love of wearing it among his peers. The story has a powerful message of pride, even in things that others might not consider beautiful. This message of pride in self is very different from the mainstream media and social media messages most children receive today, which tends to rely on branding. Yet the book offers several jumping-off points for shared discussions: recycling, waste, repurposing, imagination, kindness, and, of course, economic inequity.
VERDICT When sharing, read Paul’s glorious author’s note first to establish that this tale from memory offers so many lessons and so much beauty in very few pages.

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