written and illustrated by Lauren A. Mills
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Price: $17.00 US/$19.00 CAN
Picture Book, 32 pages, inprint in hardback since 1991
With paintings that capture all the beauty of Appalachia in authentic detail, this tender story about a resourceful mountain girl's special coat will touch readers with its affirming message of love and friendship.
Winner of New York State’s Charlotte Award and nominee by13 other states, Smithsonian’s Season’s Choice, starred review in School Library Journal. The Rag Coat has been performed as a ballet by the University of Utah and performed by storytellers across the United States.
The story is used in many curriculum guides for teachers covering topics of esteem, bullying, self respect, social skills, quilting and other crafts, Appalachia, poverty, death, and resourceful mountain living in the early 1900’s.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-- Minna, a young Appalachian girl, wants very badly to attend school, but she doesn't have a coat. Her father has just died and her family cannot afford one. When a group of mothers who gather at her house regularly to make quilts hear of her predicament, they decide to help her. Minna is thrilled, but when the new coat is finished and she wears it to the one-room schoolhouse, she is teased by her classmates for wearing rags. Minna is hurt, but she eventually gains their interest when she explains that her coat is full of stories--their stories--for each scrap has come from one of their homes. The children are enthralled and sorry for their taunts. Mills's care and attention to details make her book as charming as her narrative. The paper is a cream color, and the watercolor palette is warm but faded to give an antique cast to the illustrations. The large, lovely paintings that bring the characters and period to life are balanced by text on the bottom half of the left-hand pages; the generous blank space is filled with small scraps of colorful cloth. The writing is lyrical; its heartwarming message emphasizes the value of a community and sharing. It might even inspire a class quilting project--and a chance to share more stories.
Judith Gloyer, Milwaukee Public Library
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Minna's family can't afford a coat for her, but Papa keeps her warm in winter with a burlap sack and Mama's patchwork quilt; this happy family understands that ``People only need people, and nothing else.'' Soon, Minna loses one of those people: Papa, a coal miner, gets the lung sickness and dies, after urging eight- year-old Minna to start school. There's still the problem of the coat, solved by neighbors who contribute scraps and help to make one of patchwork lined with the old sack, ready almost as soon as cold weather begins. At first, the other children tease Minna about her outlandish garment; then, learning that the patchwork contains bits of their own histories, they begin to honor Minna and the stories she tells about the coat's many pieces. This sweet, sober tale about love and good will overcoming poverty is reminiscent of Marguerite de Angeli's thoughtful books--especially in the soft, delicately detailed illustrations with their subtly poignant charcterizations and lovingly evoked setting in time past. Unusually appealing. (Picture book. 5-10)
Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved
deeply moving story of dealing with sorrow and teasing
By Good Yarns on June 16, 2002
I must confess, I was not prepared to read my 5 year old a book on death...and I was a little shocked to find out during my first time reading it to her (I guess I should have pre-read it). Even so, I loved it, and so did she! This story deals with the sorrow of death and the humiliation of poverty in a real and positive way, without being sentimental. It is beautiful to see a child come up with a loving solution to her problems.
A wonderful book
By A Customer on December 21, 2001
I'm a student teacher, and I used this book in our classroom, and this is an outstanding read. Outstanding! This is the story of a little girl who wants to go to school, but she doesn't have a coat. Her mom and some of her friends make a coat out of rags. When she wears this beautiful looking coat (and it is beautiful coat) to school, her classmates make fun of her and the coat. She runs off to the woods in tears. She remembers the words of her father who died. Minna then went back to the class and explained that this coat, just wasn't rags. The "rags" came from the childhood of the kids in the class. An old blanket here, an old coat there. They soon realize that each part of the rag coat, has a story to it.
This is a wonderful way to show a classroom that they are a community, and a part of each other. If you're a teacher, or someone who volunteers time in your child’s class, or a student teacher, go out and get this book for your class. The kids will love it. For a project, (and if you know someone that can sew) each child can bring in a "rag" and make a class "rag coat".
A classful of readers touched by this book
By A Customer on April 23, 1999
During a guest presentation on giving and volunteering at a San Francisco school, I was amazed at the instant rapport and vibrancy when the children discussed a recent reading of 'The Rag Coat'. Even the most subdued of kids became animated while discussing the main character and her awakening to the value of people reaching people. This must be one of the most valuable books for the 7-11 crowd in recent years. The response was electric.
My daughter loves anything by Lauren Mills. Her illustrations are fabulous, and her stories are full of lessons about loving and accepting people who are different from you. This one is about how a community comes together to help a little girl, and your child is sure to love it too!
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Lauren A. Mills has won national acclaim as a book author and illustrator and as a sculptor and painter. She was greatly inﬂuenced by the 19th century artists, especially the Pre-Raphaelites for their focus of the natural world as well as their sense of mythical wonder. The fourth of five children, Mills grew up playing and pretending in the woods of Connecticut and spent her summers at her grandparents' in West Virginia.
In her teens she moved to Oregon and Minnesota and later lived in Colorado, California and Massachusetts where she resides now. She and her husband, author/illustrator Dennis Nolan collaborated on several projects, most notable, their daughter...read more