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Something From Nothing

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,436 ratings  ·  155 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 1st 1993 by Scholastic Press (North Winds Press) (first published January 1st 1989)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,436 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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Lisa Vegan
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Lisa by: rivka
Beautifully illustrated with great detail (I do love the mice as much as the people!) and a truly lovely story (from a Jewish folktale) with an important message. As the last line in the book says, it’s a wonderful story.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite picture books. All children should hear this story, and they should hear it more than once.

Quite a few topics are addressed in relatively few pages.
• the Jewish culture
• "waste not want not"
• the job of a tailor
• family with close association to grandparents

The illustrations add depth to the story and introduce another storyline -- one about a family of mice who live under the floorboards and take advantage of anything th
I genuinely thought I had missed out on this modern classic picture book. Turns out I hadn't. I am sure I read this book as a child. I remember the different things they made the blanket into, and I remembered following the family of mice along the way.

Rereading a forgotten story from my childhood was genuinely a pleasure. The story definitely holds up. The illustrations are beautiful, the emphasis on reusing when we can is important, the family focus feels good, and the message of the importan
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE THIS STORY! My daughter received this as a little child and we have read it over and over. The illustrations are so beautiful, you can’t stop looking at the beautifully done images. The story is incredibly touching. One of my most memorable picture books from my kids childhood.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, fiction
For the past couple of years whenever I would check goodreads' recommendations for me I would notice this book as its top recommendation in my children's category based on other children's books I have read.

Back when my children were very young I used to read a lot of children's books to them. I still fondly recall and cherish all the hours I spent reading to them at bedtime. But, children grow up, and like so many good things in life, the wonderful moments quickly become only fading
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
A wonderful retelling of a Jewish folktale. This is the story of Joseph and the wonderful blanket his grandfather made for him. as Joseph gets older, so does the blanket. And Grandfather gets put to work to "fix it"; Grandfather remakes the blanket into smaller and smaller pieces of clothing. At the end, Joseph loses the last piece of clothing made from the blanket (a button). then Joseph writes about his blanket, making something from nothing.

There are actually two stories here, bec
I loved this folktale! The repetition of the boy going back to grandpa and getting something new every time from the old blanket material was fun! It was predictable in a circular way (you know he's going to get something new) but exciting in that you don't know what his grandpa was going to make next! Lots of cool Jewish cultural details (clothing, food, etc, and in one scene the family is sitting down to a Sabbath dinner) and lovely illustrations!

My favourite part, though, was the
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a retelling Jewish folktale which presents a little boy who has a favorite blanket and his mother tells him that it is getting old and rugged and that it was time to get rid of it. Joseph tells his mother that his grandfather could fix it. Yes, this book is a treasure. It is a beautiful and timeless tale. Joseph's grandfather is filled with love and wisdom. The flows of the words are poetically magical. The illustrations are beautiful. This book is a delightful to read with a child. In m ...more
Aug 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great book! Another favourite of the grandchildren.
Margaret Klein
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a re-issue of a much beloved children's book (and song). The colorful illustrations and the sing-song repetition makes this an easy one for little ones to grasp as they wind up repeating the chorus. When it arrived in my office as a new PJ Library book one of our staff, an accomplished singer songwriter herself remembered the song version. We three adults gathered in my office had fun reading the book together as it teaches an important lesson about not wasting and using every last ...more
Haley Malloy
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i. "Something from Nothing" is a story about a boy named Joseph who receives a hand-made blanket from his grandfather when he is just a baby. He then grows older and his mother realizes that his blanket is very used and should be thrown out. Joseph does not want to throw away something that was hand-made for him so he gets his grandfather to fix it into something else. As the years go on, Joseph goes to his grandfather when his mom feels it is time to get rid of the new creation. Time after time ...more
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This wonderfully illustrated book is a Jewish folktale that tells the story of a boy and his blanket. As the boy grows, his blanket is transformed into numerous items over the years. Each time, the boy’s grandfather takes the piece of the old cloth and creates something else out of it for the boy. The fabric gets smaller and smaller over time until it turns into a button. The boy loses the button and is devastated. In the end, he decides to write this journey on paper, thus he becomes a writer. ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Summary: Joseph’s grandfather made him a wonderful baby blanket that becomes worn, but Joseph knows his grandfather, a tailor, can fix it. And so he does, again and again, creating different things for Joseph to wear until finally, the last bit is gone. But that’s not the end of the story!

I love Jewish folktales! This story is an adapted Jewish folktale I enjoyed from the first read. I like its repetitive refrain, warmth of family life, and richly colored illustrations. I was surpris
Molly Robbins
At the beginning of this story, the child receives a blanket from his grandfather. Throughout time and growing age, it continues to get worn out, so throughout the story, the blanket is made into a jacket, then vest, tie, handkerchief, then a button. He eventually loses the button but after that, they have enough to make a wonderful story. This book would be great to read to the class to teach them about different cultures, and how the child was extremely close to his grandfather. You could ask ...more
Kristina Maines
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: maines-k-5
Something from Nothing is a Jewish folklore that has been passed down. In the story, Joseph's grandfather gave him a blanket when he was born. As Joseph grows, his grandfather fixes and changes the blanket to meet Joseph's new "older" needs. In the end, Joseph realizes that it is not the blanket/vest/button that matters, it is the stories and memories that come along with each stage of it.

This is a great read-aloud story for Kindergarten and 1st grade students. It is short, entertaining, a
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a 4 1/2 stars for me, it almost got a 5 but I am holding back!!! This is a lovely story about what happens to a special baby blanket Grandpa made. As the child gets older the blanket becomes, a coat, vest, tie and button all fashioned by Grandpa's Hands. The illustrations on the book are lovely, the story is just a "warm fuzzy" .

Also I loved the pictures so much I went through it again. But this is a book you need to take a closer look at. At the bottom of the page, there ar
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-book
This book’s illustrations did a good job of showing the same material through the whole book. The pages in the beginning and in the end are the same material that is the main subject through the book, keeping the motif strong throughout the story. The main theme in the book is how to get something from nothing and you can see how the fabric starts so small and you can see how much it can do. You also get another picture story at the bottom of the page of a family of mice using it for the same re ...more
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
This folktale is about a boy named Joseph and the life of his baby blanket that his grandfather made for him. As Joseph grew older so did the blanket. It became tattered and torn and throughout the book, his grandfather had to keep transforming the blanket into different things. Things such as a jacket, vest, tie, and button. Joseph eventually loses the button but realizes he got a great story out of the whole life experience.

This book could be used to get the students to make someth
Christy Bennett
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
1. Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers (1992), Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards (1993)
2. K-3
3. This is a classic Jewish folktale of a young boy whose grandfather makes him a blanket. As the boy ages, so does the blanket, and every time the boy asks his grandfather to fix it, he receives a smaller, different article of clothing.
4. I loved the boy's determination to have his grandfather fix his blanket or vest, etc. despite his mother just telling him to g
Lisa Carroll
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a charming picture book that was based on a Jewish folktale. The story was charming and it helps children learn that sometimes it's best not to be wasteful and throw things away. There are times when we can reuse and item in a different way. The illustrations were amazing and this would be a wonderful book to add to a classroom. Children need to see pictures of representations of different cultures. This book shows several pictures of a lovely Jewish family who work, eat, and pray toget ...more
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this is a sweet story about a relationship between a grandfather and his grandson. the grandfather makes his grandson a blanket and as the boy grows and destroys the blanket the grandfather makes something new out of the material. i have a close relationship with my grandparents and they do everything to make their grandchildren happy. this story was kind of a reminder of that for me, how they’ll always be there for me, and will help me and teach me with whatever tools they may have, but most o ...more
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This Jewish folktale is about when Joseph was a baby. Joseph's grandfather made him a shimmering blue blanket adorned with the moon and stars. As the boy grows and the blanket wears out, the old tailor recycles it, in succession fashioning a jacket, a vest, a tie and, finally, a cloth-covered button. But when Joseph loses the button, even his grandfather cannot make something from nothing. Thankfully, it ends when the boy discovers one last use for his beloved keepsake. The text is repetition an ...more
I first heard about this book when I was helping out in a kindergarden classroom. The children loved it and completed an art project based on it. I loved the artwork within the book: beautiful watercolors illustrating the story, as well as a small story within the story if you look closely enough! I had to get my own copy. It is a story adapted from a Jewish folktale about a grandfather who transforms a piece of cloth into various garments for his grandson as he outgrows them. I would definitely ...more
Ramanda Flannery
This book is about a little boy who has a favorite blanket and his mother tells him that it is getting old and regged and that it was time to get rid of it. He tells his mother that his grandfather could fix it. His grandfather does fix it he turns it into a jacket. The story goes on like this until the blanket has been turned into nothing but a small button. The little boy loses the button and is very upset but finally calms down. He goes to school and is writing and says I think I can make thi ...more
Apr 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: PreSchool-Grade 2
A retelling of the same Jewish folktale as Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. Pretty tempera paintings loaded with fun details illustrating life in an Eastern European shtetl will entertain children while they listen to a tale in which a worn, but beloved baby blanket is refashioned into smaller and smaller objects by a child's adored grandfather, and finally, by the child himself.

CIP:In this retelling of a traditional Jewish folktale, Joseph's baby blanket is transformed into ever smalle
Sara DeVinck
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This book is about a young boy whose grandfather made him a blanket when he was first born. The boy grows out of the raggy old blanket so the grandfather makes it into something else. The grandfather keeps doing this for the boy until one day the boy loses the last of the material. He then turns the events into a story. This book could be used if you have students that are low poverty because it teaches them that you do no need much to be happy. You just need a positive attitude and be creative.
Apr 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love this story! I paired it with a story about Grandma Prisbey's bottle village this year for Earth Day, asking my 3rd-5th graders to think about why I wanted to share these stories with them for Earth Day. I also pointed out that they needed to pay special attention to both stories that would be going on--the main story and the parallel story shown underneath the house with the mice. The story has a refrain that works well for "audience participation".
Stephanie Jeanneret
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was really good. It starts with the grandfather making the boy a blanket, as the blanket gets old and dirty the grandpa keeps using parts of what he has made to make the boy something else. At the end the grandfather makes the boy a button, and the boy looses it, the grandfather tells the boy that he can not make something from nothing. This was a great book to read with my kidnergarten class during our quilt lesson.
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childhood
A charming story to be read and enjoyed time and again. I'm glad I have had children over the past 30+ years to read to and buy books for - otherwise I would have to admit that I am the biggest fan of beautifully told and wonderfully illustrated children's books. Such a change from the Dick and Jane books I grew up with ... which I suppose are a classic in their own right. But hooray for Dr. Seuss and all who followed!
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childhood, 2015
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.

I recently reread this after remembering it from my childhood. It is a lovely tale with beautiful illustrations. I love that if you pay close attention to the illustrations, you can see another tale with the mice under the house.
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What can I tell you about myself? I like to make up stories and draw pictures. I like to go ice skating, to the movies and I love reading books.

I was born and grew up in the Bronx, New York. My Mother loved to read so it was only natural that my brothers and I got our own library cards as soon as we were able to print our names. My favorite books were fairy tales. When the pictures di