BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Magic Ball of Wool by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Nora Hilb, translated by Jon Brokenbrow

Magic ball of WoolIn my crotchety old age, sleep is a major challenge, so I usually end up taking a pile of must-reads to bed. In spite of the lack of zzzzs, my stacks aren’t exactly shrinking, but how grateful am I to never be without bookish company in the wee hours.

Sometimes, I get oh so lucky on these seemingly neverending nights and I discover a title that’s Magic which gently sends me off to slumberland. From the inspiring Spanish publisher, Cuento de Luz, comes another soothing, hopeful story about a hedgehog who wakes one morning with a ball of wool stuck to his prickles. Once he shakes it off, a spider teaches him to knit. The hedgehog proves quite facile, and soon enough, neighboring friends drop by and ask if he might make them a little something. Whatever the hedgehog knits transforms into the recipients’ most fervent wish. The mouse’s tiny sweater becomes a giant ball of cheese, the frog’s mittens becomes a mirror (she’s self-admittedly a bit vain), the bear’s balaclava (love that word!) becomes a shell with lulling sounds of the sea …

By the time the crab arrives many requests later, the hedgehog realizes he has only a tiny piece of magic wool left. But the crab has come a very long way in search of a very long, strong rope to pull a huge blue whale – dangerously beached – back into the ocean. While the hedgehog thinks through the sleepless night (sound familiar?), all the forest animals return their precious wish-fulfilled objects to the hedgehog’s door. Happily surprised, he unravels the gifts. With the magic ball reattached to his prickles, he “hiked through three forests and climbed two mountains, until he came to the sea and found the blue whale sobbing on the sand.” And knit he did …

The hedgehog selflessly creates, the other animals take and enjoy, but they so willingly know when to give back. A whole community rallies to save a single distressed soul. How can you not love a story like that?

Why are some of us deficient in that sort of giving which is so transforming for both the giver and taker? Today of all days seems a good day to just help without expecting payback, to do good without thinking how or why … and tomorrow we can do the same, and the day after that, and the day after that, and so on. We can all make magic indeed.

Readers: Children

Published: 2013


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