Everything went well enough at first when Cousin Clara unexpectedly came to stay with Lester's family. “Clara didn't make unsavory noises or rearrange Lester's Lost and Found collection. All she did was sit and knit.” However, things quickly take a turn when Clara presents Lester with a sweater she knitted for him. Not a normal sweater. A misshapen, yellow with purple pom-poms sweater. A perfectly dreadful sweater! Lester is mortified to be seen in it. Luckily, it is destroyed in a mysterious accident later that day. But then Clara surprises him with another sweater, equally ghastly. When it, too, meets an unfortunate end, Clara knits another one, and then another to replace that one after its tragic demise. Is there nothing Lester can do to stop Cousin Clara's never-ending supply of hideous sweaters? Author and illustrator K. G. Campbell's unconventional picture book tale is brought to hilarious life by his drawings of uncommonly ugly sweaters. With its offbeat humor and terrific use of language, it would make a superb choice for a lively read-aloud. Though the fastidious Lester with his exceedingly good manners is a bit unusual, the dilemma he faces is a fairly common one, and this book could launch a classroom discussion about young children's own experiences with receiving unwanted gifts, and the trade-offs that are made within families between honesty and kindness. It would make an inventive resource for a lesson on hobbies or crafts, or for children's own craft projects as well.
Keith Gordon Campbell was educated in an old, turreted school with ghosts and secret passages and stuff. There he learned to love all things ghoulish, ghastly and rather gothic. He wasn't one for chasing after balls or playing leapfrog; he preferred, even then, to find quiet corners where he could write peculiar stories and illustrate them with funny characters. Keith is now a full-time author/illustrator and lives in California.
... readers will thoroughly enjoy Campbell's canny blend of irony and sweet-heartedness.
Campbell's witty and wordy text ... plays out every child's nightmare fantasy of showing up at school in The Wrong Thing.
—The New York Times
Kids are gonna chuckle at this one ...
Lively writing is peppered with clever alliteration and wordplay.
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
The illustrations are delightful ...
—School Library Journal
[Campbell's] writing is remarkable. Clipped and catchy. ... The book works because everything is understated to a beautiful degree.
—Elizabeth Bird, SLJ.com