The Quiltmaker's Gift

by Jeff Brumbeau illustrated by Gail de Marcken (Orchard Books New York 2000)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other

recommended but unavailable - maybe a copy in your local library


Jeff wove a magical tale able to capture a reader’s heart and imagination. The beautiful imagery and detailed illustrations invite the reader to accompany the king and become a part of his unfolding quest for happiness. The quiltmaker’s beautiful quilts are not for sale and the greedy king could not have everything he wanted. Seemingly indestructible was the old quiltmaker who magically transformed the heart of the selfish king who eventually realised giving is the greatest gift.

This enchanting story is one for all ages to enjoy and share together and it contains many peace-building elements.

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  •     challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  •     peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  •     … element that supports the idea that peace is possible

The old quiltmaker announced:

“I give my quilts to those who are poor or homeless. They are not for the rich.”

The old quiltmaker innately knew the king’s journey would bring him the happiness he sought. The obsessive king believed happiness was derived from owning beautiful things but he was open to the quiltmaker’s suggestions. Eventually, after giving away everything he owned he appreciated that material possessions did not make him rich.

This story is about faith and hope and instills a belief in true happiness being possible for everyone, not just quiltmakers or kings. The happy ending truly does involve everyone winning.

Critical questions to explore with children 

  • For whom did the old quiltmaker make her quilts?
  • Why did the King want one of her quilts?
  • What bargaining did he attempt to do with the old quiltmaker?
  • What did the old quiltmaker request of the King?
  • Did the King like the quilt she made for him?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children 

  • What makes you happy?
  • What possessions could you live without?
  • To whom would you suggest the old quiltmaker give her quilts?
  • What kind of person was the old quiltmaker?
  • Do you know of any other stories about kings who behaved like this one?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?

© Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation February 2005

return to story list

return to noticeboard