This summer’s program theme is Build A Better World, and one of the weekly sub-themes is recycling. My librarian friend told me about a perfect book to go with that theme.

Phoebe Gilman based Something From Nothing on an old Jewish folktale. There are other versions of this story, but it’s my friend’s favorite–and for good reason!

The story starts with Grandfather, a tailor, making Joseph a blanket when he is a baby. 

You might notice that under the floor there are tiny scraps of fabric. Readers will want to keep their eyes on that space, as an industrious mouse family makes use of every bit of fabric.



As Joseph grows, his blanket gets old and worn. Mama wants to throw it away but Joseph says, “Grandfather can fix it!” 


The blanket becomes a coat. And then a vest. And then a necktie. And then a handkerchief. And finally a button. 

One day, Joseph loses the button. He is very sad but the next day he is inspired to write a story about the button, to make something out of nothing.

This is a wonderful story and there is the bonus story of the mouse family. They grow and change along with Joseph and his family, and their home is enriched by every scrap of fabric that was once a piece of Joseph’s blanket.

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