A Cozy, Thankful Community

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With the chilly seasons arriving, there are only three things on my mind; cozy, cozy, and cozy. I guess, if you want to get all technical, that’s only one thing (but just so you know, being technical is not very cozy). Here are a few things that are cozy:

Cups of tea.
Pillows.
Knitting.
Tiny villages.
Winter.
Blankets.
Picture books.

Put these all together, and you’ve got one cozy party. You also get THE STORY BLANKET, written by Ferida Wolff and the late Harriet May Savitz, illustrated by Elena Odriozola. In THE STORY BLANKET, our heroine is Babba Zarrah, a (definitely) cozy woman who lives in a tiny village in the snow-covered mountains. The children love to gather on her big, old story blanket and listen to her imaginative tales. One day Babba Zarrah notices that Nikolai needs new socks, but she has no yarn. After the children leave, she unravels part of her story blanket and knits him some nice warm socks.

Not long after that, the postman is surprised to find a scarf wrapped around his mailbag. The grocer mysteriously receives a shawl to keep her warm. On the woodpile outside the school is a pair of mittens for the schoolmaster. Meanwhile, the story blanket is getting smaller and smaller. When the villagers discover Babba Zarrah’s secret, they decide to give her a surprise of her own.

Everything about this book is cozy—the little village, the colorful storytelling quilt, plump and rosy-cheeked characters bundled in shawls and coats, sparse wintery scenes—even the text feels like an old European folktale. The watercolor illustrations are simple, perfectly paired, and beyond charming. For a week of Thanksgiving, this sweet story celebrates community, sharing, caring, and all things cozy.

When the technology becomes available to us (and it will) to physically enter into the pages of any book, you’ll find me sitting on that blanket with those little villagers and a cup of hot tea, listening to Babba Zarrah’s stories.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Eliza Wheeler

Eliza Wheeler is the author-illustrator of MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS (Penguin), which debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list. She also illustrated Holly Black’s Newbery Honor winning novel DOLL BONES (Simon & Schuster), Pat Zietlow Miller’s picture book WHEREVER YOU GO (Little Brown), Mara Rockliff’s picture book THE GRUDGE KEEPER (Peachtree), and Tricia Springstubb’s new middle grade series CODY (Candlewick). Eliza received the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Grand Prize Award for best portfolio at the 2011 SCBWI National Conference. Eliza is a northern Wisconsin native currently living with her husband in Los Angeles, California. See her work at www.wheelerstudio.com

11 Comments:

  1. This sounds like a great story for teaching empathy and selflessness – without lecturing. Wonderful!

  2. Thank you for sharing this act of mercy PB thank you, terri

  3. This sounds like a beautiful story–definitely one that I want
    to read!

  4. Before I read your last paragraph, I was thinking: THIS is a story I’d love to step into. Hope you’ll make room on that blanket for me. Thanks, Eliza!

  5. Thank you, Eliza, for sharing this lovely story that invites us into its coziness. This is another book that goes on HOLD at the library!

  6. Geez, I’d love to be on that blanket and listen to Babba’s stories. And I sure want to find out what surprise the villagers give her! Thanks, Eliza, for introducing me to this book.

  7. A story blanket–what a wonderful, cozy way to share stories and caring.

  8. While the book sounds good, I found the review especially delightful! Thank you.

  9. Just reading about this book warmed me up on an early wintry morning. Thanks!

  10. What a great review and tie in to winter. Thank you.

  11. What a beautiful review!

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