Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Review - If You Want to Knit Some Mittens

If You Want to Knit Some Mittens

by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Angela Matteson
Date: 2021
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

In this humorous picture book, a girl's desire to knit mittens leads to something even better: the warmth of friendship.

How do you knit a pair of mittens? The first step is to get a sheep of course! In this playful story, a girl follows 18 steps to knit mittens--from bringing home a sheep to carding, spinning, and dyeing the wool to knitting the mittens. But along the way, her mischievous sheep creates chaos and wins her heart. By wintertime, the girl has sunny-yellow mittens, the sheep has a sunny-yellow hat, and together they're ready for adventure. This tale of patience, creativity, and friendship is knitted from skeins of humor and love.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I have mixed feelings about this one. From a purely informational point of view, this is a really interesting book that outlines all the steps that it would take to make a pair of mittens from scratch, from the sheep to the knitting. As a vegan, though, I also find it a bit problematic.

The first step if you want mittens is to get a sheep. Now, I get that this is supposed to be a bit fanciful, but I don't really like the way we jump right into animal exploitation. You want a sheep so it can run around your farm and enjoy its life? Fine. You want a sheep so you can have a woolly friend? More power to you. But this poor sheep is bought because the kid wants a pair of mittens.

There are many, many steps required to produce this pair of mittens, including shearing, carding, spinning, dyeing, and knitting. What if the kid loses interest somewhere along the line? What if she turns out to be allergic to wool? What if knitting is too hard? What happens then? Does the sheep get tossed in the back of the closet along with all the other abandoned hobbies?

It is interesting to see all the steps involved (heck, these people even make their own dye out of marigolds!), but the entire premise is going to be problematic for some people, not least because of how the sheep is viewed (in the beginning, anyway) as little more than a commodity, a way for the kid to get a winter accessory. I might not have such a negative view of this one if the girl and her parents had simply bought the raw wool and then gone through all the steps. The way the sheep purchase is handled kind of makes me wonder what's next. Buying a cow just so the kid can have ice cream next summer?

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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