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Lester's Dreadful Sweaters

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,067 ratings  ·  234 reviews
A fastidious fellow, Lester likes everything just so. So when Cousin Clara moves in and knits him truly dreadful sweaters as fast as he can surreptitiously dispose of them, Lester must think of a way to get rid of them for good — or be doomed to look like a clown forever.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Kids Can Press
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,067 ratings  ·  234 reviews

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Lisa Vegan
I love the premise of this story and found it hilarious, tinged with a bit of sadness until the very happy and funny ending. The illustrations definitely fit the story and were also properly amusing, but except for the adorable dog, I can’t say I found them aesthetically pleasing. The dog and its expressiveness is great though. I really loved Lester; he’s a wonderfully unique character. I like the story’s message of a person finding a good fit for themselves and its potential for discussing how ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When writing a picture book it can sometimes be a good idea to take a universal childhood annoyance and then build upon it in a satisfyingly ridiculous manner. And kids, let's face it, are often annoyed. They have to eat vegetables and take baths and take out the trash and any number of grumble-worthy daily events. And though I have no evidence to support it, I have a theory about bad gifts from relatives. I think that's something that crosses space and time and language and culture. I think tha ...more
La Coccinelle
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Something about this one made me a little uncomfortable. The poor kid was never allowed to say no and constantly had the grown-ups' wills imposed on him. I'm not sure that's a great message to be sending (kids need to learn about consent, too). Lester was forced to wear all these horrible sweaters; people treated him differently, and he wasn't happy. The more he tried to get rid of the sweaters, the worse the problem got. It was frustrating.

The illustrations were cute (I especially liked Lester'
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell was a surprise treat for me.

This quirky and slightly creepy tale revolves around just how much misery and mayhem the clickety-click of knitting needles can cause one boy. Can Lester survive the itching, the pain, and humiliation from each and every one of the dreadful sweaters?

Pages tinged with muted colors and dark humor brings our tale to light. A tale filled with crocodiles, clowns, and sweater massacres galore!

An original story that tickled my fun
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Well, I'm definitely not the target audience for this. I'd find a way to say 'no thank you' to Cousin Clara. And the parents, sheesh, you can tell by their expressions they don't like the sweaters either, so why make Lester wear them? And the resolution, well, it's just too implausible for me (though perfect for the story).

But that's just me. Yet again, this is a book that deserves its fans. I agree with another reviewer who suggested second graders, and another who said fans of Charles Addams.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Who Enjoy Picture-Books With a Quirky Sense of Humor
Shelves: picture-books
When Cousin Clara comes to stay with his family after her cottage is eaten by a crocodile, Lester, a young boy who likes things just so, is subjected to a series of hand-knitted monstrosities, otherwise known as sweaters. From the less-than-pleasant to the truly ghastly, Cousin Clara's gifts must be accepted with good grace, although mysterious "accidents" seem to keep destroying them. Unfortunately, Lester's kind cousin knits as fast as he can come up with creative disposal ideas. Then a meetin ...more
Elizabeth A
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphix, art, 2016, kids-ya
"Cousin Clara's cottage was consumed by a crocodile. Luckily, Cousin Clara wasn't in it."

When a picture book for young readers starts that way, you know that you are in for a fun ride. The only problem, as far as Lester is concerned, is that Cousin Clara comes to live with them, and brings along her knitting needles and is determined to knit him sweaters. Adults are often guilty of giving hideous gifts to kids, and Cousin Clara is no exception. What is poor Lester to do?

This is a cute, quick rea
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Oh, this was a fun book! I am in love with the dog who is drawn with the cutest expressions. The drawings are whimsical and weird, the story is odd and inventive. I could read this one out loud over and over again. From the beginning, where Lester measures his socks to make sure they are even, to the end, when Cousin Clara finds her people, it's just an unmitigated delight. There is also plenty to look at on every page, which practically guarantees success at bedtime. Lester is a quirky and inte ...more
Skye Kilaen
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
You know that cousin, that no one knows how they're related, but they keep showing up at family gatherings? Cousin Clara is THAT cousin. Except she doesn't get drunk or make inappropriate jokes or try to borrow money or set the couch on fire by accident. She KNITS. Horrible, horrible sweaters that Lester's parents insist he wear. Is he doomed?

One of our favorite children's picture books about families, even though it diverges from the shiny happy mode that many kids' books tend to favor.
Lester lives a very orderly, meticulous life until the arrival of Cousin Clara (whose “cottage was consumed by a crocodile). She installs herself in his family’s home and begins knitting sweaters – each one more horrific than the last. Lester manages to destroy every single one of them almost as quickly as Clara churns them out, but his reputation is beginning to suffer. When he’s forced to wear a particularly hideous sweater to a classmate’s birthday party, he attracts the attention of the clow ...more
Hannah Moushabeck
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“No one knows who’s cousin Cousin Clara really is” so she comes to stay with Lester’s family. When Cousin Clara knits Lester a sweater he is delighted, until he sees it. The sweater is very ugly and nothing Lester would like to wear with his neat ties and nicely combed hair. So everyday he devises a way to get rid of the sweater and everyday Cousin Clara knits him an even more horrifying one. Can he get rid of them all in time for Enid’s birthday party? Campbell’s comical illustrations go hand i ...more
Liza Gilbert
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Inspired, divine, hilarious, and just plain brilliant. With text that is reminiscent of Lemony Snicket and illustrations that channel Charles Addams, this picture book is an absolute gem amid too-cutesy and overly "charming" books that sometimes flood this portion of the book market.

This is the kind of picture book that you not only enjoy sharing with children, but buy copies of for your adult friends and family.
Elisabeth Cole
Apr 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: children-s-books
I normally really enjoy quirky picture books, the quirkier the better. "Lester's Dreadful Sweaters" is supposed to be quirky but tries way too hard and instead just seems strange. The way the dialog was written came across as clunky and odd to me and made it hard to understand what was going on. I couldn't figure out what the point of the story was until I read the synopsis. And don't get me started on the creepy clowns... ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If Edward Gorey & Polly Horvath had a literary love child, this would be it. - Kirkus Reviews.
Cute, creepy illustrations and a very funny story! Definitely not for the very young, but I'd love to try it with a group of second graders. ...more
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Poor, poor Lester, whose Aunt Clara knits dreadful sweaters with lightning-fast speed. Delightful illustrations.
Maya Palavali
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh Lester. Those sweaters.
Clever, funny, tongue-twisting, amazing! Lester's Cousin Clara keeps knitting dreadful sweaters for Lester. ...more
Molly Cluff (Library!)
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ok, this book was simply weird, but there was something about the aesthetic that found it's an audience with me. It was almost a bit Tim-Burtony? A boy named Lester's Cousin Clara comes to stay at their house. While she stays, she knits him a zillion atrocious sweaters. The sweaters are so ugly that they're almost . . . cool? They've got, like, upside-down pockets, asymmetrical sleeves, horrible hoods, etc. Anyway, he hates them and is constantly seeking out new ways to ruin them so he doesn't h ...more
Chelsea Radojcic
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was so original. It was super cute and had me laughing. Mind you, I'm a 24 year old adult, and I have no children of my own, nevertheless, here I sit in my kitchen reading children's books and drinking coffee. I found it to be very cleverly written and I think I loved everything about it. It reminds me of something that my dear friend Ryan would like. It had a sort of pessimistic humor to it that I think he would appreciate. It also made me think of PJ, because of the passive aggressiv ...more
Kelsey Thompson
This book is about a young boy named Lester who likes everything a certain way. He is very particular and orderly until his cousin Clara comes to stay with the family. She is always knitting these hideous sweaters for Lester to wear to school, and he HATES them. Everyone at school looks at him weird and they stopped complimenting him on his perfectly combed hair. Lester tries different ways to get rid of the sweaters but Clara is such a fast knitter he can't keep up. He went to a friends birthda ...more
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hysterical story because it is so relatable! Every child has been given at least one ghastly outfit from a beloved relative. (I have a photographic reminder of this when I look at my 6th grade year book *shudders.*) Why do these people insist on sharing such horrific gifts? Have they never heard of a gift card??

Poor Lester not only receives a dreadful sweater, the aunt who gave it to him (if she is even really his aunt) lives with him; so he is forced to wear it to school. Somehow the dreadful
Mar 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who hate(d) receiving clothes for gifts
Lester is a very put-upon boy whose Cousin Clara comes to stay with the family and knits Lester some ugly sweaters. Like many kids who receive handknit ugly sweaters, Lester has a hard time being grateful for these monstrous creations, and each sweater finds a destructive end. Luckily, Cousin Clara is a speedy knitter. Turns out these clothes are the envy of a troupe of neighborhood clowns.

The illustrations for this book look like the product of a Norman Rockwell and Charles Addams marriage. Als
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
This book revolves around one terrible, but believable, predicament occurring in a young boy's life - one that any reader could relate to and even sympathize with - a distant "auntie" moves in and knits him a sweater that his parents feel obligated to force him to wear.

No matter how quickly Lester "loses" the sweaters, the visitor replenishes them - all equally hideous. The author's vivid vocabulary and tongue-in-cheek humor really bring the story to life.

As the problem gets worse and worse, w
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this story more because of the cover illustration of the hapless Lester.

But the story struck me as wrong. Who is this cousin who no one really knows who she is related to who moves in with Lester and his family.

And then she continues to relentlessly produce these dreadful sweaters despite Lester's equally relentless, loss and destruction of her "gifts".

Then the real kicker: Clowns save the day. (Ever since Junie B. Jones; I'm not big on clowns.)

Maybe this is a story about what
Britley Madsen
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
"Lester's Dreadful Sweaters" is about a boy named Lester who gets strange sweaters made by a woman who starts to live with his family. He has to wear these sweaters to school and is embarrassed. He goes to a party and sees some clowns. They like his sweater, so Lester invites them over to get their own sweaters. The clowns hire the woman to make them sweaters, so she moves out. This book has more neutral colors. The tone is more somber. The texture of the pages is a little rough, so it helps the ...more
Heydi Smith
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-one-on-one
I loved this funny, quirky, retro-looking story.

Lester has to endure many awful sweaters before the story takes a turn for the wacky.

Loved it!

Actually there’s lots of great clothing picture books that this would pair with:

New Sock by Bob Shea
Little Owl’s Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney
The Hat by Jan Brett
Brimsby’s Hat by Andrew Prahin
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
I Like Old Clothes by Mary Ann Hoberman
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Too Purpley by Jean Reidy
A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Stoek
I adored the sly humor of this book and the fantastic language. When Cousin Clara comes to stay (after a crocodile consumes her cottage), Lester's problem begins. Cousin Clara is a curiously speedy knitter, and what she loves most to knit are dreadful sweaters which Lester is doomed to wear. Even when a sweater comes to an unexpected tragic end (like being shredded by the lawn mower), there's always a new one to take its place. The expressions on the character's face are fantastic, and the endin ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was sort of strange, but I really liked it. The illustrations featured a lot of old-timey images (like Lester's mother having a washerwoman rag on her head) and they were tinted to look like an old picture book. Even the pages were matte finish instead of the more modern glossy. I'm not sure why this choice was made, unless it was to go along with the more formal, slightly old-fashioned way of talking. I suppose, though, that none of this really matters because I really just liked Lest ...more
Kent District Library
This is a hilarious story about a little boy, his “cousin” that knits horrible sweaters, and his attempts to dispose of said sweaters with a humor that echoes Lemony Snicket’s. The opening line caught me right away: “Cousin Clara’s cottage was consumed by a crocodile. Luckily, Cousin Clara wasn’t in it.” Any book that uses words like “inexplicable tragedy,” “ghastly,” and “irksome,” and has a protagonist with a list of “Suspicious Stuff Starting with C” has my vote!

-Dawn at KDL’s Gaines Township
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K. G. Campbell is the author-illustrator of Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. He was born in Kenya, raised in Scotland, and now lives in southern California.

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