Review of Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather
by Matt Phelan; illus. by the author
Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp.    g
10/21    978-0-06-293414-7    $17.99

Opening on a morning scene of autumnal domestic bliss, a large, bathrobe-clad bear holding a steaming mug looks out the window at falling leaves. “Sweaters ON!” the bear declares to a roomful of ­pajama-­wearing cubs, and the story takes off. Wrangling seven small bears into sweaters is no easy feat, and the gloriously chaotic effort goes on for several pages, punctuated by brief, lively speech bubbles (the book’s only text, and all it needs). Phelan’s (You Are My Friend, rev. 11/19; Turtle Walk, rev. 1/21) soft, colorful art, created with pencil, ink, and watercolor, amplifies the coziness of all the bears and their clothing. The littlest cub, who is perhaps the most enthusiastic, manages to unravel its green sweater completely. Finally, six bear cubs are dressed; the littlest one is stuffed into a large stocking cap that the large bear has been knitting; and out everyone goes into…the night. The humor of the ending is just right, as is the large bear’s last directive — “Pajamas ON!” — leading to the story’s natural evolution into a bedtime book. This tribute to the realities of parenting small children (and bears) revels in the humor and joy that can be found when the ­best-laid plans go awry.

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach
Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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