The Qultmakers Gift
About the Books Author & Artist Quilt Stories Quilt Gallery
Appearances in 2005

Gail De Marcken

Houston, Texas
October 27-30


George Brown Convention Center

Thursday - Sat., October 27-29

11AM-5PM, Sun., October 30

Jeff Brumbeau, Author

It was Jeff’s exposure to independent, self-sufficient women, Jeff believes, that later inspired him to write children’s stories that featured strong women, as in his first two books, The Man-In-The-Moon In Love and The Quiltmaker’s Gift.  The Quiltmaker is independent and she has scruples.  Ultimately, it is her clarity, determination, and vision that overcome the resistance and the greed of the king and help him discover a more joyful way of living though giving.

The same is true with Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat.  In this tale, however, the woman starts out as timid and unsure of herself when she decides to put on a new and very unusual hat.  As the day passes, though, and she continues to stand up to the townspeople who object to her chicken hat, she becomes stronger and surer of herself.  At last she proclaims, “I have the right to wear what I like…”

Growing up, Jeff was interested in tales with a strong moral base, especially those found in eighteenth and nineteenth century children’s literature.  In his stories, he wanted to create the same vibrancy and ethical values that are found in the classic tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm Brothers.  For The Quiltmaker’s Gift, he selected the quilt as a symbol for the theme of giving and sharing, because a quilt represents the ultimate gift.  It offers both practical warmth and artistic beauty.

Gail de Marchen, Illustrator

Gail has found models for her characters in the people and figures that populate her world.  The inspiration for Miss Hunnicutt came from Gail’s sister-in-law.  A great and animated teacher, she is nicknamed Rubber Face due to the all the faces she makes and the rubber noses she likes to collect.  Her students know what subject is coming and how quiet they have to be by watching the type of nose she is wearing.  Like Miss Hunnicutt, she is not a timid person.

Gail was particularly interested in the portrayal of Yadda.  She tried to make him appear vaguely Jewish or Middle Eastern and thus different from the others in a more important way.  The boys are always sneering or shooting at him with their slingshots but then they are impressed with his juggling skills and want to learn for themselves. 

The model that she used for McSnoot was an older Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Lithuania.  It was her young spirit that influenced Gail to let McSnoot be the only character to change and learn anything.  She solves the problem of her poodle by putting on roller-skates and enjoying the ride, with the goose as a hat on her head.  The rest of the town just copies the chicken hat that pleased the king.

In a Latvian church near her home, she found a polished head that she liked for the king in The Quiltmaker’s Gift so much that she made his crown fall off a number of times so that they could see it.  It is to Gail’s niece that the king is reading to when the Quiltmaker finds him at the end of his gift-giving travels.  She also met a merry woman who became her inspiration for the Quiltmaker and she became great friends with her.