Polly MacCauley's Finest, Divinest, Wooliest Gift of All
Shortlisted for the 2018 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children's Literature
Some called Polly MacCauley a witch, and some called her wise, and because she was so rarely seen, some even called her a figment of everyone else's imagination. But there were some who believed that she sheared and spun and carded and dyed special wool from a special lamb born long ago, and that she was the maker of many gifts.
From one of Canada's most loved and lauded children's writers comes a new tale about the joy of making things, the strength of community, and the warm reach of generosity. This beautifully illustrated storybook blends poetry and prose, infused with Fitch's trademark wit and playfulness, to tell the story of Polly MacCauley, a bit of a mystery in her community of River John, who spends her time making wondrous things with wool. When Star, a very special lamb, is born on a nearby farm, Polly knows that with Star's wool she can make her 'finest, divinest, woolliest gift of all'. But the greedy Count and Countess of far-off Woolland have learned about the lamb's arrival, too, and are determined to add her to their flock.
Will the good folk of River John join together to see that Star gets to her rightful home? Will Polly be able to finish her masterpiece? Darka Erdelji's gorgeous illustrations have just the right amount of whimsy, perfectly capturing the spirit of Fitch's touching yarn.
Divided into nine short sections, this is a grand book to share aloud, or read alone. It will appeal to children of all ages. And to knitters, weavers, spinners and the warm-hearted everywhere.
What folks are saying
"Polly MacCauley's Finest, Divinest, Woolliest Gift of All is the most playful, flowing yarn and could only be spun by the inimitable Sheree Fitch. Her words, threaded with Darka Erdelji's beautiful illustrations, weave a timeless and touching tale that will warm the hearts of all ages."
– Sydney Smith, illustrator of Sidewalk Flowers, Town Is by the Sea, and more
"In Polly MacCauley's Finest, Divines, Woolliest Gift of All, Sheree Fitch knits and spins a lovely story that will captivate and enchant children. Her playful, musical tale is interwoven with whimsical, rhythmical words and poetry. She has created a wonderful cast of characters from the greedy Count Woolliam and his sister, the Countess of Fleece and Fluff, to the improbable, magical, cunning Polly MacCauley, who loves to create something beautiful every day.
The story of Star, the orphaned baby lamb who has enough wool to inspire Polly MacCauley to create a dazzling shawl of healing and hope for the Earth will be read and shared over and over again. Darka Erdelji's spare, beautiful, and fluid illustrations fly off the page and colour this tale with joy and laughter."
– Marie-Louise Gay, author and illustrator of Short Stories for Little Monsters, the Stella and Sam books, and many more
"I began to think of the book as having layers of experience, much like a skein of hand-dyed yarn. First, you need to wash, scour and dry the fleece. Then card and spin it into yarn. Then prepare the dyes, and so on. Likewise, the book contains the story, the plot. Then there is the language itself. The pictures offer another experience. The message of the story is another thing and the play between narrator and reader offers yet something else. It's not one thing and, again depending on your children, the reader can pull out one strand (ha!) to emphasize based on what might resonate in that moment in time. I guess what I am saying is that, like a beautiful skein of handspun, hand-dyed yarn, the book has depth."
– Robyn Love, knitter and blogger
"Art, collaboration, and community are the threads that tie this warm story together."
– Linda Ludke, in Quill & Quire (Read the full review.)
"... a read-aloud story of story-telling breadth, deep and involved and rich with the essence of life. It has love, sadness, grief, death, conflict, compassion and hope, so much hope. There will be cheers and tears and bleats of appreciation for a story of history and connectedness, generosity and inspiration. ... And though Polly MacCauley's Finest Divinest Woolliest Gift of all is firmly rooted in the Maritimes of her home, Sheree Fitch has woven a story for the world in both context and spirit."
– Helen Kubiw, on CanLit for LittleCanadians (Read the full review.)
"a treasure to be cherished!"
– Theo Heras, in Canadian Children's Book News (Winter 2017)