I’m currently in the middle of a knitting obsession. It’s all I’ve been doing in my spare time for the last few weeks. So I’m gratified to notice that there have been several adorable knitting-themed picture books that have come out in the last couple of years.
I first saw this book in a (super awesome) shop in Vancouver called Kidsbooks. I wrote down the name and, when I got back to work, asked that we buy it, only to find that it was already on our order list. It’s about a girl named Annabelle who, in the middle of a dreary small-town winter, finds a box of brightly coloured yarn. She knits a sweater for herself and realizes that the box is still full. Excited, she knits a sweater for everybody she knows and eventually begins covering the houses and trees in town, too. A rich and powerful duke hears about this and comes to her offering outrageous amounts of money for the box. Annabelle says no, so the duke hires thieves to steal it. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I think it goes against expectations in a particularly lovely way. The art is also beautiful (it’s illustrated by Jon Klassen, author and illustrator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat).
When Cousin Clara’s house is devoured by a crocodile, she moves in with Lester and his parents. She doesn’t do anything but sit and knit, and soon enough she’s produced a sweater for Lester. He thinks this is very kind, until he actually sees it. This is only the first in a succession of hideous sweaters that Lester destroys one by one, only to find that Cousin Clara inevitably has another one ready for him. When Lester goes to a birthday party wearing one, though, the clowns there fall in love with Clara fresh style. The writing here is smart and witty, and the descriptions of the sweaters are very funny. This is my favourite: “This one covered bits it shouldn’t and didn’t cover bits it should. It was an irksome pink with oddly placed upside-down pockets. It was GHASTLY.”
Another sweater story! This one takes place in a world where all the Hueys think exactly the same things, spend their time in exactly the same ways, and most important to the story, look exactly the same. One day, one of the Hueys decides that he wants to make himself a jumper (“sweater” to us North Americans – Jeffers is from Northern Ireland). He knits a sweater in bright colours and begins wearing it around, to the shock and dismay of the other Hueys. Sweater Huey is suddenly DIFFERENT. Eventually, one more Huey decides he wants a jumper too. He knits himself a matching one. Other Hueys follow suit and suddenly the first sweater-wearing Huey is not different anymore – until he decides he wants a hat. Simple illustrations, but eye-catching and funny as well.
Knitting has been making a comeback over the last few years, and lots of people have gone back to making their own garments with a couple of sticks and a ball of yarn. I find the knitting theme in picture books so charming that I can’t help but hope it continues – it’s old-fashioned and modern, all at once.
-Kayleigh, children’s staff