- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Children's LiteratureThis author/illustrator uses each of her considerable talents to the great benefit of all who are lucky enough to share the journey of Nell the knitter, from her crushed idea of her own voice (a bully said her voice was like a "cricket with a pillow over its head") to her pleasure in sharing her knitting knowledge with her friends. Nell has found a creative (and generous) outlet by knitting lots of scarves, hats, and mittens. She considerately gives them to family members, as well as babies in the hospital, children in "countries whose leaders are at war," and even her brother. The genius of the watercolor illustrations is in how they convey the depths of Nell's personality without a line of text. The very first page simply says, "This is Nell." And then we see her knitting all through her day: at the bus stop, in class (note the rueful smile), walking with her dog, and at day's end as she falls asleep. After the hurtful remark about her voice, "…Nell doesn't talk a lot.", we see her sitting in class just smiling weakly while the rest of the class is eagerly waving hands for a turn to speak. She is an excellent listener and a thoughtful knitter, but she is not treated kindly by her classmates, so she becomes shyer and quieter. At the local county fair awards are given for all sorts of things (pretty cows, tasty pies, art projects, etc.), and no one is surprised when Nell's sweater entry wins a blue ribbon, but they are impressed when the mayor awards her a special honor for "outstanding efforts in the service of others." Now her selflessness is made concretely apparent and the other children (even the boys) are eager to have her teach them to knit. She does so quite well and with greatgrace. Of course, classroom readings of this thought provoking book will prompt excellent discussions. Children will recognize the impact of thoughtless remarks and self-centered reactions, but they will also see the joy in doing "the right thing" and passing it on. Nell's classmates are turned around very quickly in the storyline but the message is clear: there is great satisfaction to be had in doing things for others. Here's hoping that a lot of people are listening as closely as Nell does. 2006, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 5 to 9.