Intergenerational and neighborly love fills every page .Mrs. Goldman, a white, Jewish woman, has always loved her Latina next-door neighbor, Sophia. She knit baby hats for her and still knits for all her neighbors. Sophia helps by making the pom-poms. "Keeping keppies warm is our mitzvah," Mrs. Goldman tells her, explaining that a "keppie" (Yiddish) is a head and a "mitzvah" (Hebrew) is a good deed. But Sophia worries that her friend is so busy knitting for others that she leaves her own head too cold. Sophia wants to make a hat for Mrs. Goldman and finally succeeds after much frustration and many dropped stitches, tossing her needles into the air in a moment of triumph—almost. The hat is just not at all pretty, but many pom-poms will surely help…and the gift is delivered, complete with 20 pom-poms. Edwards' story radiates warmth and coziness and is a delight to share. Karas, who learned to knit for this book, uses softly toned mixed media to showcase the wonderful affection between the little girl and the old lady. His endpapers are a swatch of garter stitches, uneven and dropped. Instructions for knitting the hat and decorating it are included, and every beginning (and experienced) knitter will find it a perfect project. Knit a hat and love thy neighbor. (Picture book. 3-6)
Sophia notices that Mrs. Goldman knits hats for everyone in the neighborhood and never thinks of herself. “Where’s your hat?” Sophia asks when they’re out on an icy day walking Mrs. Goldman’s dog. “I gave it to Mrs. Chen,” the woman replies. Sophia prefers making the pom-poms that adorn Mrs. Goldman’s hats to knitting anything herself, but she decides to make Mrs. Goldman “the most special hat in the world.” In a series of captivating spot illustrations, Karas (Make Way for Readers) shows Sophia hard at work, her dot eyes intently focused on the yarn. But Sophia’s knitting leaves much to be desired. Can this token of love be saved? It’s a supremely lovely story, a tribute to the rewards of grit and selflessness; Edwards’s (Max Makes a Cake) unadorned, emotionally genuine text is as winning as the pictures. Readers will be able to add two words from Jewish culture to their vocabularies—keppie and mitzvah—and there’s one more word that fits both Sophia and Mrs. Goldman to a tee: mensch. Ages 4–8.
Sophie lives next door to passionate knitter Mrs. Goldman, who makes hats for tiny babies, older folks, friends, and family—and Sophie. Mrs. Goldman has taught Sophie how to knit, too, so she can make hats to give away as a good deed. “Keeping keppies warm is our mitzvah.” But knitting is hard, so Sophie sticks to her favorite part of the process, making pom-poms as hat toppers. When Sophie notices that Mrs.Goldman has no hat and learns she’s given it away, she picks up her needles again to make sure that Mrs.Goldman can keep her own keppie warm. She’s tempted to quit, but after heading out into whipping winds with the hatless Mrs. Goldman, she chooses to keep trying. Finally, the hat is finished, but as Sophie turns it over and sees its many holes, she doesn’t know if it’s worth giving, until she comes up with a pom-pom infused idea. Though the weather outside is cold, this story overflows with warmth. Sympathy, empathy, and love all wind together in a text featuring a determined young heroine and in thoughtful mixed-media art. One page is full of images of Sophie at work, another a blurry scene in the snow; both set the mood. A
lovely book to share and discuss, and the hat pattern is included!
School Library Journal *
PreS-Gr 2–Mrs. Goldman is a knitter, and she uses her talents to show love and affection for everyone in her neighborhood by making them all hats. Sophia receives her first hat from Mrs. Goldman when she is a tiny baby, and she grows up to spend time helping Mrs. Goldman add the finishing touches to her knitted hats by making pom-poms. During a cold prewinter walk, Sophia notices that Mrs. Goldman’s head is bare because she spends all of her time knitting for others. Sophia makes it her mitzvah (good deed, as Mrs. Goldman taught her) to use her limited knitting skills to make Mrs. Goldman a hat. Sophia works hard but finds that her finished product has a few holes in it. Feeling discouraged for a moment, the child remembers Mrs. Goldman’s praise of her pom-poms, and she adds red pom-poms to any areas that are bare; Mrs. Goldman is delighted. Mixed-media illustrations showcase the research the illustrator put into learning how to knit to faithfully execute the artwork. Soft lines and muted color choices give the illustrations a look that perfectly complements the art form. Back matter includes a pattern for making a knitted hat and instructions for making pom-poms. The hat pattern does require adult assistance and a basic working knowledge of knitting, though the pom-poms could easily be accomplished by a novice. This heartwarming offering achieves its emotional impact through the loving actions of its main characters and makes for a great read-aloud whether shared one-on-one or with a group in storytime.
Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
Elderly Mrs. Goldman and her young next-door neighbor Sophia are a winning pair of friends. Mrs. Goldman loves to make little hats for all the little keppies (heads) of the babies in their neighborhood, and Sophia embellishes each of the hats with pom-poms. It’s their mitzvah, or “good deed” (as defined in the text). But Mrs. Goldman’s mitzvahs go beyond baby hats: she knits dog-sweaters, plusmittens, scarves, and hats for big kids and adults, too. One cold, windy day, Sophia wonders where Mrs. Goldman’s own hat is (“‘I gave it to Mrs. Chen,’ she explains”). “‘Mrs. Goldman’s keppie must be cold,’ worries Sophia,” and she decides to knit a hat for her friend. There are bumps along the way (and on the hat!), but through perseverance and creativity Sophia is able to present Mrs. Goldman with a thing of beauty and love. Karas’s precise, unfussy mixed-media illustrations in muted hues enhance Edwards’s ode to intergenerational friendship. Pom-pom shapes adorn many pages: as the background for Mrs. Goldman holding then new-baby Sophia, as text boxes, and as endpapers. (The opening endpapers show knitted stitches with many mistakes, and the closing ones show all of the errors now filled with pom-poms.) Any child would be lucky to have a next-door grandmother stand-in like Mrs. Goldman.
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-553-49710-6
ISBN ( Library Ed ): 978-0-553-49711-3
ISBN ( e-book ): 978-0-553-49712-0