MR NICK'S KNITTING
by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Dee Huxley. Published by Turtleback Books, 1999
ages 2 to 12 years / picture books + heartwarmers, s.o.s.e.
Mr. Nick has a passion—he loves knitting. He knits every morning on the train ride to work, and his friend Mrs. Jolley does too. When sickness strikes Mrs. Jolley, Mr. Nick puts his passion to work to serve and lift and love Mrs. Jolley.
And I think that’s the key to this very lovely and easy to read story. Mr. Nick sees a need and uses the thing that brings him joy and satisfaction to respond perfectly to that need.
There are some particularly poignant moments in this story—pages that should be read in gentle tones to soften the blow.
Like the page where Mr Nick drops stitches and can’t find them because Mrs. Jolley isn’t there—or the page where Mrs. Jolley is shown in her white, white hospital room giving Mr. Nick the news that she will be there for a long, long time.
But there are also joyful, boisterous pages that bounce along as they are read, such as the page that shows Mr. Nick knitting everywhere—even in the bathtub!
And there is a satisfying resolution to the story that doesn’t minimise the difficulties Mrs. Jolley is living through or the change in the way Mr Nick pursues his passion.
But in the end both Mrs. Jolley and Mr. Nick are happy as they knit again.
Mr. Nick’s Knitting is a wonderful story. It’s interesting and enjoyable to read and the illustrations are joyful when they need to be, stark when they need to be and always filled with character. All of which knits together to make a delightful story to read aloud.
It's great for:
Reinforcing the idea of doing what you can. Mr. Nick couldn’t ‘fix’ what was ailing Mrs. Jolley, but he did what he could and it helped.
Suggesting that it’s great to have a passion and share it with others. Mr. Nick loves knitting and he knits for his nieces and nephews as well as for Mrs. Jolley.
Confirming that troubling times may come, and that life can still be meaningful and joyful. Mrs. Jolley is clearly very ill but both she and Mr. Nick find a way to enjoy knitting again.
Sparking an interest in knitting or other yarn crafts like crochet—or even finger knitting. Mrs. Jolley knits toys and Mr. Nick knits jumpers, and then a magnificent blanket for Mrs. Jolley.
Talking about kindness. Lots of small acts of kindness come up in the course of the story—from Mrs Jolley and Mr Nick knitting for others to the unknown person who gives Mr Nick the note telling him that Mrs. Jolley is sick, to the concern on the faces of the other passengers when they see Mr. Nick sitting alone, and so on.
Talking about friendship. Mr. Nick and Mrs. Jolley are brought together by knitting but become good friends.
This book would be a nice gift by itself or with the addition of a knitted toy or jumper, or knitting needles and wool or (especially for the young child) a toilet roll and paddle pop sticks made into a finger knitting loom and some wool.