I used to be an obsessive knitter. Day and night, commuting, sitting at home, I’d have something on the needles, until… my mojo ran dry. I just couldn’t finish a project. I could start a project. If you love doing something and suddenly, one day, hit a rough patch, you know how much this stinks. It’s really been getting under my skin, really letting it get to me… and then, I saw a Tweet for a book giveaway.
Ned the Knitting Pirate, by Diana Murray/Illustrated by Leslie Lammle,
(Aug. 2016, Roaring Brook Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1596438903
Recommended for readers 4-10
You know how sometimes, it’s the craziest thing that gets you back on track? Well, that was seeing this cover. First off, pirates. I love pirates. And Ned is a knitting pirate! I retweeted the cover to my knitting friends (all in various stages of mojo and lack thereof), and the response was just as enthusiastic as mine was! When author Diana Murray contacted me to offer me a review copy, I jumped at the opportunity, and I’m so glad I did.
First of all, look at this art. It’s simply adorable. The endpapers start the fun, introducing us to a sea monster and a mermaid. The rhyming tale kicks right in, as we meet the crew of the Rusty Heap. They’re a scurvy bunch of pirates, “tougher than gristle and barnacle grit”… they brag about their pirate-y roughness time and again, only to have Ned cheerfully chime in that he knits every single time. The captain is not thrilled with this. Pirates don’t knit! Oh, really? He sure changes his tune when a sea monster attacks them, and the only thing that stands between the crew and Davy Jones’ Locker is Ned and his knitting prowess: he fires a blanket at the monster, which curls sweetly around him and sends him off to sleep. Like the best knits do!
I read this to my kiddo in full pirate voice (my throat felt like it died the death of a thousand cheese graters, but it was all worth it), roaring and singing seafaring songs and pointing to my guy to chime in, “KNIT!” when Ned piped up. We had a blast with this book! The only thing I can’t believe is that it’s been out for a year and I wasn’t aware of it until now.
The cartoony art is adorable, and the rhyming pirate tale is complete with seafaring terms that every buccaneer-in-training will take to heart and love. And let’s take a moment to adore the fact that Ned is a GUY WHO KNITS. And he’s proud of it! More power to you, Ned! Bust gender roles – knitting is not just for girls! – and use your smarts to save your crew, thus getting everyone (literally) on board with the sticks! There is nothing like the soft feel of a homemade blanket to immediately put you to sleep, unless you’re one of my kids in infancy; nothing worked then. (But at least they were warm and wrapped in love.)
Bottom line: Ned the Knitting Pirate is SO GOOD. The words are fun and catchy; you want to speak like a pirate when you read this book. It’s perfect for a read-aloud, whether you read about pirates (may I suggest How I Became a Pirate and Pirates Don’t Change Diapers, by Melinda Long) or about knitting (I love Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski and Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett), and it’s perfect for a feel-good read; you cannot be in a bad mood after sitting with this adorable book.
So, my knitting mojo? Well, after reading this book for the third or fourth time, Kiddo turned to me and said, “When are you going to knit me something?” And I felt awful, because I haven’t knit this kid anything. One single thing. And it’s time to remedy that. So I pulled together all my yarn, tracked down as many of my needles as I could, and together, he and I picked a dinosaur hat and a Grumpasaurus stuffy that I’m going to make for him. For the hat, I’m going to use the Antler Toque pattern from Tin Can Knits, because it’s cool and the cable pattern looks kind of like dinosaur plates; from there, I’ll knit up spikes to sew onto the hat, so he can be a Stegosaurus.
If you’re not a knitter, Ned the Knitting Pirate may just make you one. Enjoy. Check out Diana Murray’s author website for more info on her books (including the super-adorable Doris the Bookasaurus), news, and fun facts.