Mikey’s dad has left home to fight overseas during World War I, and Mikey wants to do something BIG to help. When his teacher suggests that the class participate in a knitting bee in Central Park to knit clothing for the troops, Mikey and his friends roll their eyes—knitting is for girls! But when the girls turn it into a competition, the boys just have to meet the challenge. Based on a real “Knit-In” event at Central Park in 1918, Knit Your ...
Mikey’s dad has left home to fight overseas during World War I, and Mikey wants to do something BIG to help. When his teacher suggests that the class participate in a knitting bee in Central Park to knit clothing for the troops, Mikey and his friends roll their eyes—knitting is for girls! But when the girls turn it into a competition, the boys just have to meet the challenge.
Based on a real “Knit-In” event at Central Park in 1918, Knit Your Bit shows readers that making a lasting contribution is as easy as trying something new!
The book, with chipper illustrations by Steven Guarnaccia, presents a little-known example of how gender-bending wartime role reversals weren't limited to Riveting Rosies…Knit Your Bit is sweet and old-fashioned…
Hopkinson (A Boy Called Dickens) again gracefully mines history with this story highlighting a patriotic civilian initiative during WWI. After Pop goes overseas, Mikey scoffs at helping Mama and his sister knit clothing for soldiers: “Boys don’t knit,” he says. “Besides, I want to do something big to help.” But after his teacher announces a knitting competition to benefit soldiers (based on an actual “Knit-In” held in New York City’s Central Park in 1918), Mikey and two friends accept a boys vs. girls challenge to win the knitting bee. With a hint of Hergé, Guarnaccia (The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale) contributes clean, understated cartoons that humorously convey the boys’ determination and frustration as they tackle their knitting projects. Even Mikey’s mixed results (he knits one perfect sock but botches its mate) work out in the end. Closing notes provide additional background, and Hopkinson brings the cause into the present, suggesting resources for information about current knitting efforts for soldiers and veterans. An enlightening piece of historical fiction that drives home the idea that every little bit helps. Ages 5–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Feb.)
- Lois Rubin Gross
Deborah Hopkinson has taken a historical footnote and turned it into a story relevant for today's young readers. During World War I, as soldiers went "over there," children left on the home front looked for patriotic ways to support the troops. Mikey wants to help, but his sister's suggestion that he take up knitting is too "girly" for Mikey and his friends. When the teacher intervenes, and divides the class into boy and girl teams of knitters, the project takes on new energy. The city of New York plans a three day competition for the best and fastest knitwear to be shipped to soldiers. Ellie, Mikey's sister, knits caps for her father's whole unit, but Mikey does not complete his project. Discouraged by the single sock he has been able to complete, he meets an amputee in the park and it becomes obvious that this man is the perfect recipient for his gift. Even without this sad reminder of the casualties of war, this is a wonderful book that fluidly tells and expands on an historical incident. The cartoon-like illustrations seem as if they were plucked from long ago funny papers. Trivia such as the fact that the President of the United States had sheep grazing on the White House lawn add fun and authenticity to the story. End papers show period photos of children, boys and girls, knitting for the cause. Backmatter includes historical facts about knitting as a home front activity, as well as web links to encourage children to knit for charity. Perhaps this could be prepared with a craft lesson in which children can learn to knit-one, purl-two. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—When his father leaves for World War I, Mikey wants to do something big to help. His teacher tells the class about a Knitting Bee in Central Park where volunteers will make hats, scarves, and socks to send to soldiers. At first Mikey dismisses the idea as too girly and too insignificant, but then pours his enthusiasm into the project when the effort becomes a competition between the girls and the boys. He becomes frustrated when he has trouble learning the stitches, but realizes that no contribution is too small when he meets a soldier who has lost a leg and gives him the one sock he has managed to finish. The story is a wonderful expression of emotions. Mikey's face is determined and funny at the same time, and his perseverance and the positive attitudes shown by all the children are timely reminders about the satisfaction to be had in reaching beyond oneself. The old-fashioned look of the pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations is well suited to the narrative. The warmth and humor found in the pictures lighten the tone and keep the story from becoming too serious. Combine this book, Mac Barnett's Extra Yarn (HarperCollins, 2012), and a fiber art project to make a thoughtful and cozy winter storytime session.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Even boys can knit, when it's for their fathers fighting overseas. It's World War I, and Mikey's dad is in the Army. His mother and sister are busy knitting warm garments, but Mikey won't help. "No way! Boys don't knit." Then his teacher encourages the class to participate in an upcoming Central Park Knitting Bee. It's the Purl Girls vs. the Boys' Knitting Brigade. Mikey, the "sergeant of socks," and his two friends practice their stitches. On the day of the bee, he marches his troops to a bench and commences the battle. The boys don't knit too well in spite of their earnest concentration. Mikey despairs of finishing his project--a pair of socks--until an encounter with a disabled veteran gives him a more sensitive perspective on war. As in previous titles, Hopkinson was inspired by an actual event, creating a fast-paced narrative sure to appeal to children today. E-communication has long outstripped snail mail, but the loneliness and the worry of families left behind will still resonate. Guarnaccia's pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations nicely evoke the fashions of the time period. Liberal use of white space focuses attention on the children and their earnest if awkward stitchery. A fine entry in commemoration of the upcoming centennial of World War I. (author's note, Web resources.) (Picture book. 4-8)
Deborah Hopkinson (www.deborahhopkinson.com) is the award-winning author of more than 40 books for young readers, many of them historical fiction picture books that illuminate the lives of ordinary people or forgotten figures in history. Deborah lives in West Linn, Oregon.
Steven Guarnaccia (www.stevenguarnaccia.com) is an associate professor in the Illustration Program at Parsons The New School for Design. He is a former art director of the New York Times Op-Ed page, and his illustrations have appeared in books, magazines, and greeting cards. Steven lives in Brooklyn, New York.