Reading a Little © Maggie Vanderweit

Reading a Little: Jean Little

Maggie Vanderweit

Fergus, Ontario, Canada

Artist Statement

This is personal. Jean Little, born legally blind, is one of my mother’s oldest friends. As young women, they taught special needs children together. I called her my aunt.

When I was 5, “Mine for Keeps” was published, Jean’s first of over 45 books. I eagerly awaited every one and we often talked about them as they were being written. Thus began a lifelong, formative love of Jean’s characters, their stories and inspiring ability to always find their way back to truth, connection and kindness.

I have been profoundly influenced by Jean’s worldview, her personal example and her encouragement to read. I deeply admire her creativity, strong work ethic, presence on the world stage, optimism, understanding of the human heart and search for beauty.

“Reading a Little” is machine pieced and quilted using cotton photo transfers of the inscriptions that Jean wrote into my copies of her books plus the lessons I have taken from them. The quilt and seam lines are deliberately wiggly to imitate Jean’s description of how she sees things. I wanted it to be mostly about words but I also have included a few symbols – Anna’s basket, Sally’s dog Susie, Willow’s Red Mouse, Meg’s puzzle, Kate’s star, Emily’s window, Laurel’s monarchs, Martha’s campfire and Janie’s lake. The nest is about believing the birds will sing again and also stands for the book I have written, so it feels like life has come full circle.

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

Jean Little, who was legally blind at birth, is a prolific, internationally acclaimed Canadian children’s author whose 45 inspirational books tackle challenging themes with candor and tenderness.


Photo transfer on cotton, machine pieced and quilted.



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