Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Sequin and Stitch by Laura Dockrill

Sequin and Stitch, written by Laura Dockrill and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, is a wonderfully crafted story of family, dreams and home. It is overflowing with empathy for the struggles and joys faced by so many children. The layers of meaning are stitched together beautifully to create a story that is enjoyable to read yet delves right into the reader’s heart. As the themes of the story unfold, the reader becomes a part of Sequin’s journey. They navigate every challenge with her, feeling her emotion and urging her onwards.

Nine-year-old Sequin’s mum is her hero and inspiration. She is fiercely loyal to her mum and immensely proud of all she does as a seamstress. Despite so many of life’s challenges trying to get in the way, Sequin is happy.  Her mum has created a mansion for their tight-knit little family which is safe and full of love. The silks, ribbons and lace that fill their lives turn Sequin into a princess and she wants her mum to be a princess too – successful, celebrated and recognised for how amazing she truly is.

Sequin is as beautiful as her name. She sparkles through life. Her identity is wrapped up in the life her mum has so lovingly embroidered for her in their flat full of sequins, buttons and the most exquisite fabrics in the world. Despite the uniqueness of her name and that of her baby brother, Stitch, this incredible woman is never known as anything other than “Sequin and Stich’s mum” – something many mums can relate too! The strength of the love between mother and daughter means that is enough for Sequin’s mum. She made Sequin, they are stitched together forever, they are one.

When tragedy strikes, Sequin’s fairy tale life melts away. They must work together to find a way to rebuild and sew a new future together.

This story is anything but predictable. There are plot twists and jaw-dropping surprises that keep the reader on their toes!  It is one of those books that, when finished, causes the reader to want to take time to contemplate what has happened and then return to the book to read it again! 

Published by Barrington Stoke, this beautiful story has a reading age of 8 but an interest level of 8-12. Laura Dockrill has not shied away from challenging, age-appropriate themes and is respectful of her readers’ ability to deal with issues such as poverty, bullying and loss. This book is sure to help more reluctant readers find their reading spark and get lost in this engaging story, building their confidence with manageable chapters and text. It will be published with dyslexia friendly font and colours to ensure everyone can access the treasure within.

This story will appeal to adults as well as children. As soon as I saw the cover, I was taken back to memories of my childhood surrounded by sewing. My grandmother was a seamstress. Before the war, she worked in a dress shop in London and modelled for them. The glamourous life she learned there stayed with her as she began to sew the most wonderful garments. Once the war was over and she was newly married, she started sewing from her home. Some of my favourite memories of spending time with her are watching her ladies come and go for their fittings, trying not to get stuck by pins as she adjusted a dress she was making for me, hours and hours sorting her button box and wearing dresses that not only matched my younger sister, but our dolls too. She designed and made my Canadian high school graduation dress and it was our dream that she would one day make my wedding dress. Sadly, that wasn’t meant to be but once I had chosen my dress, I couldn’t wait to show it to her.

Both she and my mum taught me to sew when I was very young and it is a skill that never loses its value or charm. My mum is also incredibly talented. When my sister and I were small, we had the funnest shorts, skirts, tops and dresses all lovingly made by mum. She would sew gymnastics leotards for my sister and homemade Paddington Bears for us to cuddle. Now that I have children of my own, they are spoiled with cosy cardigans, gorgeous dresses and an abundance of colourful doll clothes all made by Grandma. Quilting is now her passion and the intricate designs she creates are magnificent. Each quilt has a special meaning and memory.

Love goes into every single stich. The tradition of creating, stitching and mending is powerful and must not be forgotten. My children are now learning to sew and it is wonderful to watch their joy and pride as they concentrate on every seam.

“A family stitched together with love seldom unravels.” (Letty Cottin Pogrebin)

Special thanks to Kirsten Lamb at Barrington Stoke for this proof copy of Sequin and Stitch! It will be released in the UK in August, 2020.

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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