When Mikey's father leaves to fight in World War I, he and his classmates join the Central Park Knitting Bee to help knit clothing for soldiers overseas.
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Hopkinson provides readers with a glimpse into life on the World War I home front. When his father goes off to war, young Mikey wants to "do something big to help." His mother and sister are knitting socks, hats, and mufflers for the troops, but when asked to join them Mikey proclaims: "No way! Boys don't knit." At school, Mikey's teacher encourages all the students to participate in the Central Park Knitting Bee, and Mikey, spurred by the girls' taunts ("I bet you're scared you can't learn"), enlists his fellow boys to take up the challenge. No, they don't become world-class knitters; during the contest, Mikey knits his best sock ever but drops a stitch before completing its pair. He then meets a wounded warrior who has lost his left leg and who encourages Mikey to keep at it: "if we each do a little, it makes something big." Clearly we have a recipient for Mikey's single sock, but also a reminder of the real costs of war. The illustrations' muted hues, heavy on olive and khaki, indicate times past, but Guarnaccia also capitalizes on white space, giving readers room to consider the times and themes presented here. Hopkinson's appended author's note provides more information about WWI and brings the war-relief effort into the twenty-first century, noting places that today accept knitted items for soldiers. betty carter