review: Three Balls of Wool

Three Balls of Wool (Can Change the World) by Henriqueta Cristina, illustrations by Yara Kono, translated by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

This picture book, published in association with Amnesty International, is one of a growing number of titles aimed at bringing political awareness to young children. In this story, a family flees their home country to settle in a place where, unlike in the country they fled, all the children are able to attend school, but they quickly find that the limited options in their new home are also unsatisfying. This unrest is illustrated by the three monotone sweater options available to children: solid green, orange, or grey. The mother, tired of seeing the children looking “like an army” in their matching clothing, unravels three sweaters and uses the wool to knit multicolored versions which soon become a trend. This seemingly inconsequential thing brings joy to everyone and illustrates the point that small actions can spread out and become larger ones. The illustrations are also restricted to a limited color palette (mostly but not completely green, orange, grey, and black) and use knitting symbols and imagery throughout for a very effective and striking look. The last couple pages include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which may spur further questions and discussion.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Enchanted Lion Books