In search of a freer place where every child can go to school, a family moves from Fascist Portugal to Communist Czechoslovakia. Different as this new country is, however, it is far from ideal. In this new, gray world, the lack of freedom is felt in the simplest things, such as the colors one can and cannot wear.
Yara Kono was born in Brazil. Her first drawings were made on the wall of her family's living room. Her mother wasn't pleased, but eventually embraced the artistic talents of her daughter.
Henriqueta Cristina was born in Portugal into a family of many brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and stories. She graduated Porto University and has been a teacher for over thirty years.
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About the Author
Yara Kono was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1972.She started making her first drawings on the wall of the sitting room. Her mother, who at first was not too pleased, finally gave in to the "artistic talents" of her daughter. From wall to paper, from paper to the computer the years have gone by.
Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the translator of The World in a Second and Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words, and the author of the young adult novels Rogue, Gringolandia, and Surviving Santiago. She lives in New York City and spends part of each year in Lisbon. She blogs about Portugal, cultural diversity, and writing at lynmillerlachmann.com.
"Loosely inspired by the experiences of real families fleeing dictatorship only to find continued oppression under Communism, this modern fable presents a hopeful twist by showing how art can inspire hope and change. The first person narration is direct, balancing a child's understanding with the heavy topic. . . . [The illustrations] create lovely cohesion between plot and art. VERDICT: A good choice to provoke discussion about freedom and oppression with older readers."--School Library Journal
"One day, the mother launches a quiet rebellion against the tyranny of homogeneity and conformity--an embodiment of artist Ben Shahn's insistence that "without the nonconformist, any society of whatever degree of perfection must fall into decay." It starts with a grey sweater she unravels into a ball of yarn, then an orange one, then a green one. Out of these three balls of wool, she begins knitting sweaters of all stripes and patterns, remixing the solid givens into previously unimagined possibilities. [...] Three Balls of Wool, which is absolutely lovely both as a picture-book and as a symbolic cultural message, comes from Enchanted Lion Books"--Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
"While not as harrowing as many contemporary stories, this timely title gently introduces the trauma of exile to young readers and can lead to discussions and, hopefully, a better understanding of being uprooted. Kono's graphic designs on pale gray paper artfully capture the drabness of the new city and the varied patterns of the sweaters. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is included. A timely story of refugees and the strength of individuality over conformity."--Kirkus Reviews
"Narrated by an eight-year-old child, a family moves from 1960s Fascist Portugal to Communist Czechoslovakia in search of a better future. But the new country is far from ideal. Graphic designs on pale gray paper capture the darkness of the new city. The buildings are gray boxes and everyone wears monotone, orange, green, or gray sweaters knit in the same pattern. The mother unravels the sweaters and mixes the colors and stitches, knitting different bold checks, zigzags, and stripes. "--OmniLibros
"When a family has to leave their war-torn land, they have a lot to adjust to in their new country. They are thankful for so much, including an opportunity for all children to go to school. However, there is an orderly, monotonous uniformity and lack of freedom that seems to pervade their new home--everything rom the gray buildings to the same dreary clothing that everyone must wear. An idea comes to Mother one day that she thinks might do some good. She sets to work with her three balls of wool, knitting endlessly with her needles clicking and flashing. Her one little gesture proves impactful and inspires a wonderful change." --Books For Diversity
"Beautifully graphic, bold and educational." --Andie Powers
"...a story of refuge, adaptation, and change. It reminds us that better isn't always perfect, and we have much to learn from one another."-- Anna, Kid Lit Crafts
"The latest illustrated children's book published by Brooklyn-based Enchanted Lion Books spins a tale about creativity and how an act as simple as knitting can affect a community. Published in association with Amnesty International, Three Balls of Wool (Can Change the World) also gives parents a helpful way to talk with their kids about immigration." --American Craft Magazine
"A resourceful mother unravels the sweaters in order to make new sweaters, patterned ones that express joy and individuality, and she starts a kind of revolution come spring." --Danielle Davis, This Picture Book Life