cover image Bit by Bit

Bit by Bit

Steve Sanfield. Philomel Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22736-3

Imaginative pictures embroider the story line in this suitably homespun adaptation of the Yiddish folk song ``If I Had a Little Coat.'' Zundel the Tailor sews a long winter coat out of multicolored cloth. ``How Zundel loved that coat,'' writes Sanfield (The Feather Merchants; Strudel, Strudel, Strudel). ``He wore it in the morning and he wore it at night... until bit by bit he w-o-r-e it out.'' Gaber's (The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies) illustrations cleverly imply time's passage. In early images, the red-bearded Zundel wears the coat as he courts a black-haired, fair-skinned young woman, whose photograph he props up on a dress form at home. Later, Zundel recycles the tattered fabric into a dinner jacket (which he wears at his wedding); then into a cap (which he's wearing when he first sees his infant son); a pocket's lining; and at last a tiny button (which adorns his shirt when his son blows out five birthday candles). The low-key text and kindly, broad-faced characters radiate an earthy gentleness. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)