cover image The Truly Terribly Horrible Sweater... That Grandma Knit

The Truly Terribly Horrible Sweater... That Grandma Knit

Debbie Macomber, Mary Lou Carney, , illus. by Vincent Nguyen. . HarperCollins, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-165093-2

Young Cameron is counting on Grandma Susan to come through with a cool gift for his birthday. Instead, he gets a hideous sweater—one that defies all the boy's attempts at eradication (including donating it to the church rummage sale and dousing it in condiments). But Cameron changes his tune when Grandma explains the significance behind each of the colors in the sweater's lovingly stitched stripes (green commemorates a winning soccer goal, yellow signifies that he is “the sunshine of all our lives”). Macomber, a bestselling romance novelist making her picture book debut, and Carney (Tyler Timothy Bradford and the Birthday Surprise ) do little to freshen up a chestnut premise—the narration feels like a well-intentioned youth sermon, and Cameron's efforts to rid himself of the sweater never gain comic momentum. Nguyen's (Gorilla Garage ) characters tend toward a Plasticine quality reminiscent of the humans in the Toy Story movies, but his paintings pick up a considerable amount of energy and beauty whenever the story moves beyond its domestic confines. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)