Therese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs

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My daughter studied Medieval and early modern history recently, and then last year my kindergartner and I studied places around the world. I so enjoy finding amazing picture books about the things we’re learning about, so I really enjoyed finding the historical fiction picture book Therese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs, illustrated by Renee Graef (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013). In this picture book, a young girl in 1600s France works on a tapestry in secret from her father, with which she hopes to wow King Louis XIV.

Girls in her time were not expected to develop a trade, but with her father’s business, Therese had become an artist. She’d assisted in her father’s factory, so she knew the steps required. In the following pages, before the King’s visit, Theresa gathers thread from the dye works in the correct colors, convinces her brother to help paint a “cartoon” framework (unpolished, but to be used as a guide), and then begins the difficult task of weaving the tapestry. As a finishing touch, she adds silver threads to the frame, and, of course, when the King visits the tapestry factory, he is amazed by her artisanship. Her father likewise is impressed.

I love the gorgeous illustrations, and the scroll-work frames around some images helped give a “tapestry” and Medieval feel to the whole book. The front-end paper even features an illustration of the map of the factory in Paris, so my youngest and I enjoyed finding the places discussed, even though some of the pages had a bit too much text for me to read in full. The feminist take on the artisan at work was also a wonderful modern surprise (I love when girls surprise their parents/friends like this.

As a book published by a museum, I loved the factual details in the end matter, including facts about the actual tapestries made at the time. Therese Makes a Tapestry is a great book to add to your Medieval/Early Modern studies.

Reviewed on October 22, 2022

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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