Lester's Dreadful Sweaters

( 1 )

Overview

A fastidious fellow, Lester likes everything just so. So when Cousin Clara moves in and knits him truly dreadful sweaters as fast as he can surreptitiously dispose of them, Lester must think of a way to get rid of them for good -- or be doomed to look like a clown forever.
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Overview

A fastidious fellow, Lester likes everything just so. So when Cousin Clara moves in and knits him truly dreadful sweaters as fast as he can surreptitiously dispose of them, Lester must think of a way to get rid of them for good -- or be doomed to look like a clown forever.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although newcomer Campbell starts out with an excess of alliterative whimsy (“Cousin Clara’s cottage was consumed by a crocodile.... added crocodiles to his list of Suspicious Stuff Starting with C”), he resolves Lester’s sweater problem so handily that readers will forgive him. It’s Cousin Clara who knits the dramatically awful, humiliating sweaters of the title. Lester’s parents compel him to wear them, and Campbell gleefully draws them. One is a “less-than-pleasant yellow” hoodie with a trailing sleeve and purple pom-poms (“It had holes where it shouldn’t and none where it should”); another has knitted feathers and striped feet. Campbell’s artwork calls to mind that of Sophie Blackall, with muted colors, soft outlines, and figures who appear polite yet diabolical (there are several scenes of sweater murder). When a group of performing clowns fall in love with the sweaters (“ ‘So stylish!’ they cried, ‘so fresh, so inspired!’ ”), Lester is able to offload his entire collection—and Cousin Clara. Younger children may be taken aback, but older readers will thoroughly enjoy Campbell’s canny blend of irony and sweet-heartedness. Ages 4–8. Agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
When Cousin Clara comes to stay with Lester's family, everything seems fine at first. She has brought a basket of knitting, so when she tells Lester she has made him a sweater, he thinks, "How kind..." But when he sees how dreadful it looks, and is told he must wear it to school, things do not go well. Lester tries to dispose of it, but each time he does he is presented with another one, even more dreadful. Finally, on the day of a party, when Lester demolishes the most horrid of all, his parents scold him. Cousin Clara simply holds up "ANOTHER sweater." As he suffers at the party, however, the clowns performing there actually admire his sweater. To Lester's delight, they invite Cousin Clara to travel with them and keep knitting. The wry text comes to an amusing ending. Lester's comic family appears on the back of the jacket, staring at an unhappy, sweater-clad Lester on the front. His dog looks on with wide eyes. Pencil crayons create detailed scenes and comic characters with special note of Lester's fussy attention to details and his appearance. The sweaters are inventively awful. Do not miss the introductory page, showing why Cousin Clara moves in.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3—When her cottage is devoured by a crocodile, Cousin Clara comes to stay with Lester and his family. The problem is, no one is really sure if she's even related. She brings along a severe lack of talent in knitting, clickety-clicking the most dreadful sweaters for Lester, a rather odd boy in his own right. Her first creation is a bilious yellow number with purple pom-poms and sleeves of uneven length. Feigning a tepid "thank you," Lester is horrified when Dad announces that he will wear the sweater to school the next day. Things do not go well. Later, the yellow sweater mysteriously meets its demise in the washing machine, but Cousin Clara makes another one, clickety-click, clickety-click. This one is pink with upside pockets. It suffers a similar fate, being shredded by the lawn mower. But, Cousin Clara knits another. And another, and another. Soon, there is a mountain of dreadful sweaters that Lester tries to destroy. But, clickety-click, Cousin Clara has another sweater for him, a birdlike design, just in time for a classmate's party. Lester is mortified wearing it, but as it turns out, the party clowns love it. Cousin Clara finds employment with the circus, where her "talent" is finally appreciated. Rendered in pencil crayon, the illustrations are retro in design and palette, suggesting the 1930s. The facial expressions are humorous, especially Lester's mom's. The illustrations are delightful, but this odd tale may find a limited audience.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Cousin Clara, who may or may not be related to the rest of the family, knits horrid sweaters at a breakneck speed. Clara, her tiny hat perched on her impossibly oval head, an innocent-looking basket of knitting in hand, arrives ready to recover from an unfortunate crocodile attack. So begins this over-the-top story of lost-and-found collections, journals of "Suspicious Stuff Starting with C" and fantastic sweaters. Clara does not knit run-of-the-mill ordinary cardigans and pullovers. Starting with a "less-than-pleasant yellow and smothered with purple pom-poms" hooded number, Clara insists on cranking out one absurd creation after another. Wearing these monstrosities to school proves embarrassing for Lester. After each humiliating day, the sweater of the day ends up shrunken, shredded, unraveled, pecked to pieces or stolen. Each colored-pencil illustration cranks up the dark humor, culminating with Lester covered in dripping red yarn, scissors in hand, while Clara wickedly smiles at the crime scene. Each detailed spread is filled with creepy shadowing and fabulous eye contact among the many characters. Lively writing is peppered with clever alliteration and wordplay. Lucky for Lester, a troupe of clowns appreciates Clara's creations. Children forced to wear horrid clothing made by well-meaning relatives will laugh in sympathy with Lester. If Edward Gorey and Polly Horvath had a literary love child, this would be it. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554537709
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 80,811
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD670L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Gordon Campbell was educated in an old, turreted school with ghosts and secret passages and stuff. There he learned to love all things ghoulish, ghastly and rather gothic. He wasn't one for chasing after balls or playing leapfrog; he preferred, even then, to find quiet corners where he could write peculiar stories and illustrate them with funny characters. Keith is now a full-time author/illustrator and lives in California.

Keith Gordon Campbell was educated in an old, turreted school with ghosts and secret passages and stuff. There he learned to love all things ghoulish, ghastly and rather gothic. He wasn't one for chasing after balls or playing leapfrog; he preferred, even then, to find quiet corners where he could write peculiar stories and illustrate them with funny characters. Keith is now a full-time author/illustrator and lives in California.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 2, 2013

    Super Funny!

    The only thing better than an original picture book is an original picture book that's funny. I laughed out loud at some of poor Lester's sweaters and his "solution" for them.

    I think that every child knows the feeling of being forced to wear something truly dreadful. Lester's sweaters all meet with a mysterious demise until he comes up with a solution that makes everyone happy.

    Campbell's illustrations are as fantastic as his writing. They are simple, humorous, and add just the right touch to complete the story.

    Super funny, original, and witty, Lester's Dreadful Sweaters is destined to be a classic!

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