The Blessing Cup

with audio recording

Illustrated by Patricia Polacco

About The Book

A bond of love unites a family throughout generations in this companion to the beloved and bestselling classic The Keeping Quilt.

As a young Russian Jewish girl in the early 1900s, Anna and her family lived in fear of the Czar’s soldiers. The family lived a hard life and had few possessions—their treasure was a beautiful china tea set. A wedding gift to Anna’s parents, the tea set came with a wish that “Anyone who drinks from this will have blessings from God. They will never know a day of hunger. Their lives will always have flavor. They will know love and joy and they will never be poor.”

When Anna’s family leaves Russia for America, they bring the tea set and its blessings. A source of heritage and security, the tea set helps Anna’s family make friends and find better lives in America. A cup from the tea set—The Blessing Cup—became an anchor of family history, and it remains a symbol of lasting love more than a century later.

This tender tribute to the importance of loving lineage is a prequel and companion to the perennial bestseller The Keeping Quilt and is told and illustrated with authenticity and tremendous heart.

About The Author

Photo Credit:

Patricia Polacco belongs to a family of storytellers, poets, farmers, teachers, and artists. They came from many parts of the world, but mainly Russia. She grew up to be an illustrator, a designer, and creator of many beloved children’s books, including The Keeping QuiltThe Blessing CupFiona’s LaceThe Trees of the Dancing GoatsBabushka’s Doll, and My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. She lives in Union City, Michigan. Visit her at and follow her on Facebook.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (August 2013)
  • Length: 48 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442450486
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® 740L

Raves and Reviews

"Polacco has a gift for turning her own family stories into picture books that can touch the hearts of all.
History, religious persecution, immigration, and the skeins of faith and love that connect a family are all knit together in this powerful, accessible and deeply affecting story." Kirkus Reviews, starred review

– Kirkus Reviews

In this prequel to The Keeping Quilt, readers learn how Polacco’s great-grandmother Anna and her parents were forced from their shtetl in Czarist Russia and made their way to America. Among the few treasures the family took with them was a vibrantly painted tea set, a kind of familial talisman (“This tea set is magic. Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God,” says Anna’s mother, explaining its lore), which also served as a reminder that they would always be rich in what matters: resilience and love. Only one cup from the tea set made it to their new home, but it played a central role in the family’s traditions and milestones through the generations. Polacco opens her heart to readers as few authors can, inviting them to become intimates in her family’s low and high points. As in The Keeping Quilt, she renders her unabashedly sentimental scenes of immigrant life in exuberant, fluid gray pencil, reserving the splashes and spots of color primarily for the tea set and—in a link to the earlier book—the babushka that will become part of the quilt. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

– Publishers Weekly

"The importance of family is the underlying message of the book; it will be best delivered by an adult who can explain some of the history that drives the action. Polacco’s touching yet restrained storytelling, paired with her evocative illustrations, makes The Blessing Cup an excellent addition to any collection."– School Library Journal

– School Library Journal

"The Keeping Quilt (1988) began with Polacco’s great-grandmother Anna’s arrival in America. In this sort-of prequel, Anna and her family are forced to leave Russia during the pogroms.  The understated telling is beautifully supported and extended in art that harks back to Polacco’s early books. The illustrations are rendered in soft gray pencil. Backgrounds are roughly yet adroitly sketched, while faces and body language are particularly expressive, and panoramic views of the shtetl are lively with detail. A few strategic features draw the eye with brilliant red and blue: small accents such as the tea set and Anna’s headscarf; once, a double-page spread of the village temple in flames. This is family history at its dramatic and iconic best, a well-shaped story and a fine addition to Polacco’s oeuvre." The Horn Book

– The Horn Book

Awards and Honors

  • ILA Teachers' Choices
  • Rhode Island Children's Book Award Nominee
  • MSTA Reading Circle List
  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner
  • Wisconsin State Reading Association's Reading List
  • Mississippi Magnolia Book Award Nominee
  • Society of Midland Authors Finalist

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Patricia Polacco