Quill and Quire

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A Bumblebee Sweater

by Betty Waterton; Kim LaFave, illus.

Betty Waterton, author of such beloved books as A Salmon for Simon and the Quincy Rumpel series, will delight children again with this droll story, jauntily illustrated by the playful, prolific Kim LaFave.

A gift from faraway Grandma Needlethorpe, the black- and yellow-striped sweater arrives in good time for Nellie to wear it in her role as a bumblebee in the upcoming school concert. Grandma’s eyes are failing a little, however, and she has knitted a sweater that reaches Nellie’s knees.

This doesn’t faze Nellie; the bumblebee sweater will keep her knees warm, and she likes it so much that she wants to wear it to show her friends at school, to a birthday party, then on a trip to a duck farm. After its misadventures each day, the sweater is washed, and after each washing it gets a little smaller. When at last it’s time for the school concert, will the sweater still fit Nellie? LaFave’s final illustration reveals the tale’s humorous climax.

Nellie is an appealing and resourceful girl, if a little prone to mishaps. LaFave gives her wild red hair, freckles, and an indomitable zest for life. There is lots of action and fun in his pictures – kittens hiding in Grandma’s wool basket, the mayhem of the birthday party. Story and pictures work together well, and the text’s dry humour lends itself splendidly to reading aloud, with all its repeated phrases.