cover image Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters

K.G. Campbell. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55453-770-9

Although newcomer Campbell starts out with an excess of alliterative whimsy (“Cousin Clara’s cottage was consumed by a crocodile.... [Lester] added crocodiles to his list of Suspicious Stuff Starting with C”), he resolves Lester’s sweater problem so handily that readers will forgive him. It’s Cousin Clara who knits the dramatically awful, humiliating sweaters of the title. Lester’s parents compel him to wear them, and Campbell gleefully draws them. One is a “less-than-pleasant yellow” hoodie with a trailing sleeve and purple pom-poms (“It had holes where it shouldn’t and none where it should”); another has knitted feathers and striped feet. Campbell’s artwork calls to mind that of Sophie Blackall, with muted colors, soft outlines, and figures who appear polite yet diabolical (there are several scenes of sweater murder). When a group of performing clowns fall in love with the sweaters (“ ‘So stylish!’ they cried, ‘so fresh, so inspired!’ ”), Lester is able to offload his entire collection—and Cousin Clara. Younger children may be taken aback, but older readers will thoroughly enjoy Campbell’s canny blend of irony and sweet-heartedness. Ages 4–8. Agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Sept.)