Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
The Story Blanket

The Story Blanket

Fall 2008 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Harriet May Savitz
Author: Ferida Wolff
Illustrator: Elena Odriozola
ISBN: 978-1-56145-466-2
Hardcover Price: $16.95
Although this is an original text, its folkloric structure conjures up echoes of other traditional tales known variously as "Just Enough to Make a Story," and "I Had a Little Overcoat," (most familiar to today's children as Simms Taback's Joseph Had a Little Overcoat). The children of the village love to gather on Babba Zarrah's intricately patterned blanket to listen to her stories. Gradually, as Babba Zarrah notices first one villager and then another in need of warm clothing-socks, scarf, mittens, apron, shawl, cap, blanket, and coat-she unravels the blanket and re-knits it. The children squeeze ever closer together to hear her tales until, at last, the blanket disappears. Eventually, the children-who knew the blanket better than anyone else-are the ones to solve the mystery of the anonymous gifts. A coda of sorts restarts the story from the beginning promising an endless cycle of kindness. Knitters will realize the impossibility of unraveling a small portion of one project and re-creating the exact same pattern in the new one (the yarn would not be in the right proportions) but the visual repetition provides young readers with the clue they need to enjoy the story. White (or lightly tinted) backgrounds focus attention on the various objects, though there is a missed opportunity in the failure to show the children progressive squished onto the ever-shrinking blanket. Most effective of all is a double-page spread of Babba Zarrah's floral backside moving though a vast snowscape with only a curious owl to mark her progress. Other humorous details-the placement of the children's shoes, a raven caught in a pair of bloomers on the clothes line-will provide chuckles for the sharp-eyed reader.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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Peachtree Publishers

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