Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Favorites: A New Coat For Anna

A New Coat For Anna
Written by Harriet Ziefert
Illustrated by Anita Lobel

Based on a true story that takes place just after World War II, in an unnamed European town, A New Coat For Anna is the story of how young Anna's determined, enterprising mother, who doesn't have the money to buy Anna the coat she needs, uses the few fine posessions she has left to barter for the goods and services she needs to make Anna's new coat. She trades with the farmer for his sheeps' wool; she trades with the spinner to spin it to yarn; she trades with the weaver to weave the cloth; she trades with the tailor to sew the coat. The whole process takes a year, and Anna and her mother have to participate in the coat's creation too (carding the wool and dying the yarn using lingonberries.) After the coat is finished, just in time for Christmas of the next year, Anna and her mother invite all the people who helped make Anna's new coat possible to a Christmas celebration.

The wonderful, plentiful illustrations by Anita Lobel are perfect for the story, providing enough detail of each stage of the coat's genesis for modern children to understand and feel the work that went into it.

I deeply appreciate that this book gives children an insight into true hardship and inventiveness under trying conditions, without resorting to preachiness. My daughters and I love this story. It's a favorite reread at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.

Published in 1986 by Random House Children's Books


  1. I'm glad you reviewed this book. I remember reading it a year or so ago and considered posting about it for Storied Cities. Obviously I never got around to it. But I did review a different "new coat" book: The Purple Coat. I even suggested that someone should write a review comparing the two books! :)

  2. I've never read The Purple Coat. But my library has it so I put a hold on it. Thanks for letting me know about it.