Even boys can knit, when it’s for their fathers fighting overseas.
It’s World War I, and Mikey’s dad is in the Army. His mother and sister are busy knitting warm garments, but Mikey won’t help. “No way! Boys don’t knit.” Then his teacher encourages the class to participate in an upcoming Central Park Knitting Bee. It’s the Purl Girls vs. the Boys’ Knitting Brigade. Mikey, the “sergeant of socks,” and his two friends practice their stitches. On the day of the bee, he marches his troops to a bench and commences the battle. The boys don’t knit too well in spite of their earnest concentration. Mikey despairs of finishing his project—a pair of socks—until an encounter with a disabled veteran gives him a more sensitive perspective on war. As in previous titles, Hopkinson was inspired by an actual event, creating a fast-paced narrative sure to appeal to children today. E-communication has long outstripped snail mail, but the loneliness and the worry of families left behind will still resonate. Guarnaccia’s pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations nicely evoke the fashions of the time period. Liberal use of white space focuses attention on the children and their earnest if awkward stitchery.
A fine entry in commemoration of the upcoming centennial of World War I. (author’s note, Web resources.) (Picture book. 4-8)