"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A New Coat for Anna

I'm excited to blog about a book that I really like. Really like. It's called A New Coat for Anna.
It was written by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Anita Lobel, and was first printed in 1986.  It is a lovely story about a resourceful mother who came up with a creative way to get her little girl a much needed winter coat during hard times. The book goes through the steps of the "coat building" from the sheep all the way to the tailor. It takes place after World War II in, what appears to be a European town.  I always think it must be somewhere in Germany. There is no father in the story, which makes me assume that Anna's father never returned from the war. And there is no food, no money, and not much else available, either.

The dust cover intro reads, "Anna's mother has promised her a new coat when the war is over. But when the war ends the stores remain empty. There are still no coats. There is hardly food or money.

"How Anna and her mother get the coat, using their cherished possessions and a great deal of patience, will fascinate and delight young children. [insert my note: AND ADULTS, ALIKE]

"Based on a true story that happened after World War II, Harriet Ziefert's inspired telling and Caldecott Honor Book artist Anita Lobel's poignant illustrations are a stirring affirmation of the indomitable human spirit.

"Here is a deeply satisfying picture book, as entertaining as it is instructive, that children will want to hear again and again."

Anna's mother gets the idea to barter with the various people who have the materials and skills she needs for a coat. She uses some of her valuable possessions and each person with whom she talks is delighted to get a nice item in such hard times. You will be pleased as it goes through the process of the farmer shearing the sheep, the little old woman spinning the yarn, Mother and Anna dying the yarn in their kitchen, the weaver weaving the cloth and the tailor measuring and stitching up the coat.
This is me in 2003, in a 2nd grade classroom,
where I had been demonstrating spinning,
finishing with the book, which is sitting
on my lap.

I've read this book to many children's groups when I've demonstrated. And recently have begun even reading it to adults, also when I demonstrate or teach spinning. Sometimes I feel embarrassed to read it to grown-ups, but they always love it and want to look at the pictures closer afterwards. (TIP: I have the text of the book printed up and read from it while I hold up the book so the hearers can study the pictures while it is being read.)

As I prepared for this post, I "googled" the book title and found there are a few videos on You Tube of the reading of the book. Here is one of them. There also appears to be activities to go along with the book and here are even some PDF downloads for home schoolers (or anyone, for that matter) to go along with the book.

Lastly, the book is available from several on-line vendors and they will show up when you google the book title.  The first link of this post is to good ol' Amazon, but there are lots of other options.

If you love fibers, sheep, spinning, creativity, a mother's love, you will love this book.

P.S. Just found a nice blog post about dyeing cotton with Kool_Aid AND it also features A New Coat for Anna.  :) It can be found here. 


  1. I've read this to the girls before and we all really liked it. :) I LOVE that pic of you reading to the students.

  2. haha, not the most flattering shot! :)


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