Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

Resources for the TBA Nominees

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters


Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters
by K.G. Campbell

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script – Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters (PDF)


Book Trailer:
http://youtube/BFi9hzU_EDk (:49)

The Nile Crocodile:

Crocodiles and Alligators:

Use this lesson plan to launch a study of crocodiles – different types, where they are found, endangered status, eating habits, differences from alligators, reptilian history:

Invite a knitter, or knitters, to speak on their craft and demonstrate basic knitting. Supply basic supplies and some may be interested in learning to knit.

Host a “Design a dreadful sweater” contest using the included template. A writing connection can be made by having students turn the design template over after completing the design and include a creative idea for disposing of the dreadful sweater. https://docs.google.com/a/snyderisd.net/document/d/1X_2J0Q2zWYZibggU5pcz974LDCSmJ3kjrChGm6Fi9Qs/edit

Host a sweater parade (real sweaters). Prizes or ribbons could be awarded for different categories such as “ugliest,” “most unusual,” or “best holiday” – let your imagination guide you.

All things clown:

Tour the world’s largest circus wagon collection at Circus World in Baraboo, WI:

Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Fun Zone (click on Fun Zone at top of page):

School Librarians will want to introduce the Physical Education department to CircusFit, the RBBB fundamentals of fitness program:

Lester’s Collections:

Many people enjoy collecting things as Lester did. There are several ways to expand on this portion of the story.

  • Students could be invited to bring their own collections for a show-and-tell event.
  • A speaker with an interesting collection of some sort could be invited to share with the group.
  • Museums house collections–a field trip could be arranged.
  • A public library could invite individuals to display their collections for a length of time.

Read Ruth Heller’s wonderful book, A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns, to introduce collectives and then call attention to other collectives books, such as Have You Ever Seen a Smack of Jellyfish?: An Alphabet Book by Sarah Asper-Smith, A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns by Woop Studios, and One Sheep, Two Sheep: A Book of Collective Nouns by Patricia Byers.

Lester’s Collection Game

Lester’s Interesting Vocabulary Word Search


No one knew exactly whose cousin Cousin Clara was, so she came to stay with Lester’s family. She was little and frilly and came with a basket of knitting.

One morning she said, “I made you a sweater.” And Lester thought, “How kind.”

Until he saw it…It was DREADFUL.

And Cousin Clara doesn’t stop there–no sooner has one sweater met with a mysterious and tragic end than she’s knitting another, clickety-click, clickety-click. Each new creation is more ghastly and mortifying than the last! Will Lester be doomed to look like a clown forever?

Charmingly odd, Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters wades into the quagmire of unwanted gifts and good manners, and will appeal to anyone who has gracefully accepted a less-than-pleasant present–and found a creative way to dispatch it!

(from the book jacket flap)


Other books by K.G. Campbell (Author appeal):

Campbell, K.G. The mermaid and the shoe. Coming in Spring 2014.

Other books by K.G. Campbell (Illustrator appeal):

DiCamillo, Kate. Flora and Ulysses, the illuminated adventures. Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K.G. Campbell. (Goodreads)

Dyckman, Ame. Tea party rules.When he follows his nose through the woods, Cub discovers a backyard tea party… with cookies! He is just about to dig in when the hostess of the tea party shows up. And she has several strong opinions on how Tea Party must be played. Cub tries to follow her rules . . . but just how much can one bear take, even for cookies? (Goodreads)

Other picture books of the same tone (Funny):

Daywalt, Drew. The day the crayons quit. When Duncan arrives at school one morning, he finds a stack of letters, one from each of his crayons, complaining about how he uses them. (NoveList)

Jeffers, Oliver. Stuck. When Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he tries to knock it down with increasingly larger and more outrageous things. (NoveList)

Reynolds, Aaron. Creepy carrots. The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him. (Goodreads)

Stein, David Ezra. Interrupting chicken. Little Red Chicken wants Papa to read her a bedtime story, but interrupts him almost as soon as he begins each tale. (NoveList)

Other picture books in the same writing style (Attention-grabbing):

Bingham, Kelly.  Z is for moose.  Caldecott Medalist Zelinsky illustrates an outrageously funny and boundary-breaking story for fans of Jon Scieszka and David Weisner.  Zebra wants to put on a show as simple as A-B-C, but Zebra’s friend Moose has other (unexpected and hilarious) ideas. (Goodreads)

Pinfold, Levi. Black dog. When a huge black dog appears outside the Hope family home, each member of the household sees it and hides. Only Small, the youngest Hope, has the courage to face the black dog, who might not be as frightening as everyone else thinks.  (Goodreads)

Reynolds, Peter. The dot. Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher’s encouragement leads her to change her mind. (NoveList)

Tullet, Herve. Press here. Instructs the reader on how to interact with the illustrations to create imaginative images. (NoveList)

Willems, Mo. Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus. When the bus driver decides to take a break from driving, a wild and wacky pigeon pleads and begs to take his place, capturing the antics of a preschooler’s temper tantrum. This is the first of this author’s popular pigeon series, all of which are funny in tone and attention-grabbing in style. (Betty Potter)


Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. By K. G. Campbell. Illus. by the author. 2012. 32p. Kids Can, $16.95 (9781554537709). K–Gr. 3. (Booklist, September 1, 2012).

What kid hasn’t been on the receiving end of a truly hideous sweater? After Cousin Clara’s house is “consumed by a crocodile,” she—and her knitting needles—take up residence at Lester’s house, dooming him to a life of stitched misery. Fastidious Lester likes everything just so, from his socks aligned below the knee to his perfectly knotted tie. So when Cousin Clara presents him with a shapeless, hooded mustard-yellow sweater dotted with purple pom-poms, he is less than thrilled, especially when his father says, “He’ll wear it to school.” Quick-knitting Clara presents a parade of sweaters, each uglier than the last, and it ultimately takes a special sort to appreciate their value. Campbell’s muted, textured pencil-and-crayon illustrations extend the story’s darkish humor (Lester “clutched a large pair of scissors, and his hands were covered with red yarn”), particularly through facial details like Cousin Clara’s caterpillar eyebrows, mole, and wicked grin. Kids are gonna chuckle at this one, even as they swear they don’t know what happened to Grandma’s last birthday gift.— Ann Kelley

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Campbell, K. G.  2012. Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press. Hardback: 9781554537709, eBook: 9781554539994.

When Cousin Clara comes to stay with Lester’s family, she very kindly makes young Lester a sweater. And what a sweater: mustard yellow, ornamented with purple pom-poms, and sporting holes in the wrong places, the garment horrifies orderly Lester, who quickly ensures that it suffers “an unfortunate accident.” This hideous sweater is followed by many more, each of which poor Lester destroys, until he is forced to wear a feathery one to a classmate’s party and the hired clowns rave over it. Lester quickly arranges a meeting between the clowns and Cousin Clara, and “on the spot, Cousin Clara was offered a job, knitting for the whole troupe” and, fortunately for Lester, traveling with them as well. Although this story is a little contrived, its basic premise homemade gifts that secretly appall the recipient is one to which many folks can relate, and fashion-conscious kids will commiserate with poor Lester and his hideous knitwear. Campbell’s subtly humorous, soft-edged pencil crayon illustrations are well suited to the faux serious tone of this wacky story. Ginger-haired Lester is a sympathetic guy as he positively droops in his malformed sweaters while his classmates recoil in horror or disparagingly point at the sight. Particularly arresting is the scene in which Lester is literally caught “red-handed” (his hands and scissors drip with blood-red yarn) as he annihilates a pile of sweaters while his horrified parents look on. Pair this with Barnett’s Extra Yarn (BCCB 1/11) for a sweater-centric storytime, or share it with kids as the holiday season approaches for a humorous look at gift-giving gone wrong.

Review Code: R — Recommended. Ages 5-9 yrs. Jeannette Hulick (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, November 2012 (Vol. 66, No. 3))

Horn Book:
Campbell, K .G. Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters

32 pp. Kids Can 2012. ISBN 978-1-55453-770-9
(4) K-3 Lester’s displaced elderly cousin Clara (her “cottage was consumed by a crocodile”) moves in and begins knitting ugly sweaters. As soon as Lester gets rid of one, Clara replaces it. Unnecessary plot points, irritating asides, and too many adjectives threaten to unravel this farcical tale, but the clever conclusion ties things up nicely. The pencil-crayon drawings are rendered in an appropriately dingy palette. (Spring 2013 Guide) Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com

School Library Journal:
Campbell, K. G. Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters

Gr 1-3—When her cottage is devoured by a crocodile, Cousin Clara comes to stay with Lester and his family. The problem is, no one is really sure if she’s even related.  She brings along a severe lack of talent in knitting, clickety-clicking the most dreadful sweaters for Lester, a rather odd boy in his own right. Her first creation is a bilious yellow number with purple pom-poms and sleeves of uneven length. Feigning a tepid “thank you,” Lester is horrified when Dad announces that he will wear the sweater to school the next day. Things do not go well. Later, the yellow sweater mysteriously meets its demise in the washing machine, but Cousin Clara makes another one, clickety-click, clickety-click. This one is pink with upside pockets. It suffers a similar fate, being shredded by the lawn mower. But, Cousin Clara knits another. And another, and another. Soon, there is a mountain of dreadful sweaters that Lester tries to destroy. But, clickety-click, Cousin Clara has another sweater for him, a birdlike design, just in time for a classmate’s party. Lester is mortified wearing it, but as it turns out, the party clowns love it. Cousin Clara finds employment with the circus, where her “talent” is finally appreciated. Rendered in pencil crayon, the illustrations are retro in design and palette, suggesting the 1930s. The facial expressions are humorous, especially Lester’s mom’s. The illustrations are delightful, but this odd tale may find a limited audience. —Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA


2 thoughts on “Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters

  1. Pingback: Welcome! | Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

  2. My classes have been enjoying this book! 3rd and 4th graders are learning how to finger knit, and my 5th graders are yarn bombing the library!

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