From the children’s bookshelf: “Pelle’s New Suit”

The Cato Policy Report invited holiday book recommendations from various people associated with Cato. Here is my contribution:

Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow

In the picture book Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow (1910), little Pelle needs new clothes and begins by shearing wool from the pet lamb he takes care of.PellesNewSuit He asks his grandmother to card it and she agrees if he will weed her carrot patch. His other grandmother will spin the carded wool into yarn if he will look after her cows in the meantime. The painter says that while paint is no good for coloring yarn, if Pelle will fetch him some turpentine he happens to need from the general store, he can use the change to buy a packet of dye. So Pelle rows off to accomplish that task (yes, rows; this is Sweden, and they might all just live in an archipelago). Amid delicate drawings of village life, this is first a lesson in doing chores with a willing hand, but also a gentle parable in production, exchange, and the division of labor, which includes domestic labor (one of his tasks is to babysit his little sister). At the end, Pelle rejoices in a new suit made by the labor of others — and which he has fully earned.


  • So where did little Pelle get the pet lamb? Did he pay for it himself? Does he pay for its food and veterinary care? Good shears don’t come cheap you know. And where’d he get the rowboat? We’re to suppose the dock just sprang into existence of its own accord too? I suppose the roof over Pelle’s head at night or the fact that he doesn’t live in a war-torn hellhole are also just givens? No, somebody along the line gave him some help. Pelle didn’t build that suit. 😉

  • Expect SJW outrage and a demand to ban the book due to its depiction of child labour practices, elderly abuse, cruelty to animals, white privilege and global warming. Oh, and War on Women, too, just because.