Something From Nothing

by Phoebe Gilman

Hardcover, 1993



Local notes

398.2 Gil




Scholastic Press (1993), Edition: No Edition Stated, Hardcover, 32 pages


In this retelling of a traditional Jewish folktale, Joseph's baby blanket is transformed into ever smaller items as he grows until there is nothing left--but then Joseph has an idea.

Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 11.57 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member STBA
In this retelling of a traditional Jewish folktalke, Joseph's baby blanket is transformed into even smaller items as he grows until there is nothing left--bu then Joseph has an idea.
LibraryThing member caitlinsnead
The blanket Joseph's grandfather made him is transformed into many things as the years go by: a jacket, a vest, a tie, a handkerchief--and finally a button. Gilman's modern adaptation and lively illustrations turn this favorite Jewish tale into a contemporary classic.
LibraryThing member corydickason
This is one of two books I've read retelling this same story, and it is by far the inferior. Not bad, but doesn't draw the reader in.
LibraryThing member Naisy
This story was adapted from a Jewish folktale and is a loving, warm tale of family. My kids love this story and also the beautiful oil paintings. Canadian author Phoebe Gilman writes and illustrates a lovely children's story.
LibraryThing member lmbenji
Being part of a Jewish family, this story definitely was touching! My poppop would read this story to me and I remember pretending that I was the little boy and his grandfather was my poppop. I never wanted to throw my blanket away just like Joseph but the ending of this book really showed that
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anything can be made from something special!
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LibraryThing member MarthaL
Such a story! And the pictures, fabulous! A great read-a-loud for preschoolers through early elementary. So many wonderful themes a creative teacher could really have fun with this book. Also a great story story to share at home with little ones as it will impart a real sense of family.
LibraryThing member kidlit9
Love everything about this book - the story, the illustrations, the subplot of the mice running under the main story. A great book for everyone!
LibraryThing member RayJones63
A grandfather makes a blanket for his new grandson Joseph. As he grew older his blanket wore out. His grandfather would make something new out of the old that was age and need appropriate. A side story has mice at the bottom of the page making things out of the scrapes that grandfather cuts
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Words to think about – frazzled, shrunken, pebble, handkerchief
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LibraryThing member ashleylegan
I LOVE this story! It was always one of my favorite when I was little. It is about a little boy and his relationship with his grandfather. The story mainly focuses on the tendency for the little boy to run to his grandfather when he is in some sort of trouble, especially if there was something that
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needed fixing. He fixed his toys, his blanket, everything! Then, one day the boy loses his button, and they said that even the grandfather couldn’t fix something from nothing. The boy was very sad…but he went to school and wrote a story, saying that even though he couldn’t fix his shirt, he got a good story out of it—so something always can come from nothing! I would have my students write a story about a time when they felt disappointed about something and felt like nothing could be done about it, but in the end, something good did come out of it.
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LibraryThing member Madison_DeWeerdt
I loved this book because it reminded me of my little brother, Scott, who would always bring his blanket everywhere he went.
LibraryThing member kzilinskas
Multicultural book. Talks about a blanket the little boy is attached to. Shows how many things you can use it for, each time it can be turned into something different. Good illustrations, repetition and appreciation.
LibraryThing member harleybrenton
When Joseph was born, his grandfather sewed him a blanket, as the blanket gets worn out, the grandfather takes the blanket and reuses the fabric to make something else. The illustrations of this book are vivid and include not only the story of Joseph, but of mice living below Joseph’s floor. The
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repetitive motif of making something from nothing establishes the idea of using your resources wisely and recycling good material. I would use this book in teaching kids about resourcefulness and being optimistic and grateful for the materials and love they have around them.
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LibraryThing member MelissaKlatt
Joseph receives a blanket from his grandfather when he is a baby and keeps it. Over the years the blanket gets smaller and smaller as it goes through many years of love. Joseph finds different things to make as the blanket gets smaller and smaller and feels proud to make each one, all while sharing
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some of the traditions from the Jewish heritage.

Personal reflection: I like this book because it has a personal connection for me because I've had a blanket all of my childhood and it gets smaller and smaller through the years. I think this story is also good for character building because the young boy finds constructive ways to remember his heritage and his blanket instead of experiencing grief.

Class use: Character building to come up with other items (big items) that can be used for different things when they are made smaller. This could also be used for math and measurement activities and understanding proportions.
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LibraryThing member margaritamunoz14
A grandfather makes his grandson a jacket and from there he keeps ripping apart and making it into new things. This is amazing to see because he makes him so many different things from it.
LibraryThing member may_tay_kay
I liked the book "Something from Nothing" by Phoebe Gilman. I believe that the illustrations and the plot contribute to this book. Th illustrations in this book are very unique. At the bottom of almost every page is an illustration of a mice family. Their actions reflect what is going on in the
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main plot. However, this is an additional layer that adds so much to the book without words. The plot also contributes to the success of the book. The story shows the boys development and his relationship with his blanket. This book has themes of Jewish life and of having a beloved keepsake.
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LibraryThing member raizel
Yet another retelling of the Yiddish song, "Joseph Had an Overcoat." Lots of repetition make it a good story-time story. The illustrations show what shtetl life was like for a Jewish family. At the bottom of each page there is an additional illustration showing a family of mice using the scraps
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made as the grandfather modifies the material used to make Joseph's blanket, coat, vest, tie, handkerchief and button.

The book can be used to teach and introduce many lessons and topics, such as music, art, clothing, economics, history, family relationships,mathematics, memory, loss, ecology, conservation. I think it would be a great Book of the Year for a synagogue or other organization.
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LibraryThing member TakomaChildren
child has a lovey (blanket) and it keeps getting made smaller as it gets tattered - Grandfather makes it from blanket to vest to button....
LibraryThing member hjaksha
A grandfather sewed a blanket for his grandson when he was an infant and the child has a strong attachment to the blanket. When the mother tells him to throw it away because the material is torn, the grandson brings it to his grandfather who salvages as much fabric from the blanket as possible to
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make new things for the boy. The final item the grandfather made for him with the fabric was a button, but the boy loses it.
Ages: 5-7
Source: Teaching Strategies Gold Boxed Curriculum
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½ (99 ratings; 4.5)
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