Love is the strongest thread
The Longest Strongest Thread by Inbal Leitner
What's it about?
A little girl and her family are moving far away, leaving Grandmother behind. The girl's suitcases are packed and are as heavy as her heart. She visits her grandmother's sewing studio to say "goodbye." While she is there, the girl helps her grandmother choose soft fabric and a strong, blue thread, as Grandmother makes her a new coat.
The girl will miss her grandmother terribly, but makes her a map and sews her a plane, so that Grandmother know where to find her and have a way of getting there. Grandmother promises to visit the girl in her new home and assures her granddaughter that they will always be bound by the longest, strongest thread.
What can we learn?
Love is the longest, strongest thread and holds the fabric of life together. It keeps people connected no matter how far apart they may be, and it is indestructible. Even if you can't be with the people you love, the thread and its unseen stitches are always there. Despite going to live somewhere so cold that "lakes freeze," the coat made with care, and her grandmother's affection, will protect and keep the girl warm.
What makes this story stand out? This is based on the author's own experience of moving countries and leaving loved ones behind, and dedicated to her own grandmother. It's simple enough to be enjoyed and understood by young readers, yet bears a significant message that can be appreciated by adults too. The thread is a wonderful symbol of the bond that the grandmother and grandchild share. The text is sparse but poetic and potent, and I love the illustrations.
About those illustrations...
The images are beautiful and really interesting; a mixture of line drawings and prints that appear to be made by sponges and other patterned objects. They have lots of texture and give the impression of a craft or sewing project, which suits the story. An attractive, limited colour palette of blue, grey and golden tones complements the simplicity of the text. A winding thread flows through many of the pages, reinforcing the story's theme. The trails made by ice skates on the frozen lake look like threads too. I love how a loose strand forms an outline of the girl as her grandmother sews and how every page exudes so much warmth and affection.
Why we love it...
The Longest Strongest Thread is a powerful celebration of love, the strong bonds within families, and the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. The items the girl makes for her grandmother could be recreated by readers, so this subtly suggests activities that might help children missing loved ones too.
I've already mentioned the gorgeous illustrations and there are lots of spreads with no words at all which allow for contemplation and discussion. This is a meaningful and thought-provoking story to be savoured slowly, and a comforting reminder of the resilience of ties that are unbroken by distance.
Why you need it...
At a time when we can't all be physically close, we need connections with the people we love more than ever. The Longest Strongest Thread is a fantastic story for exploring, and reassuring children about, the invisible fibres that bind us to the important people in their lives. This is ideal for any families who have already moved or are planning to, and the perfect gift to send to those with whom you cannot be.
About the author and illustrator:
Inbal Leitner worked as a classic animator and commercial designer for many years before obtaining a MA in children's book illustration. Her work has been published in a variety of children’s books from all over the world. The Longest Strongest Thread is her debut as an author-illustrator.
We were thrilled to win a signed copy of this fabulous book in a giveaway on the Scallywag Press Instagram page. Look at the beautiful hand-painted illustration and personalised note that Inbal inscribed inside the cover! A huge thank you to Inbal and Scallywag Press for this amazing prize which we will treasure (and which will hopefully be shared with future generations of our family too).