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Children's Fiction General

Something from Nothing

illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

Scholastic Canada Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 1994
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: 1
  • Reading age: 5 to 8



Phoebe Gilman's beloved classic celebrates its 20th anniversary!

Joseph's grandfather made him a beautiful blanket when he was a baby, but now it's frazzled and worn, and Joseph's mother says it is time to throw it out. Joseph doesn't want to part with his special blanket, and he's sure that his grandfather can fix it. Sure enough, Grandfather miraculously alters the blanket into useful items again and again. But when Joseph loses the final item, even Grandfather can't make something from nothing. But maybe Joseph can?

Based on the Yiddish folktale "Joseph's overcoat," Phoebe Gilman's gorgeous artwork charts the transformation of the blanket and the progress of Joseph's family through the years, subtly teaching young readers about a lost way of life.


About the author

Pheobe Gilman was the beloved creator of the Jillian Jiggs series as well as the award-winning Something from Nothing, The Gypsy Princess, Pirate Pearl, Little Blue Ben, The Balloon Tree, and Grandma and the Pirates. She passed away in 2002.

Phoebe Gilman's profile page


  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Commended, Antigo Sugar Maple Award
  • Short-listed, Utah Children's Picture Book Award
  • Commended, White Ravens Selection (International Youth Library)
  • Commended, American Bookseller Magazine's "Pick of the List"
  • Commended, Canadian Materials Best of the Year list
  • Winner, Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers
  • Winner, Ruth Schwartz Award
  • Commended, Canadian Library Association, Notable
  • Short-listed, Mr. Christie's Book Award
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice

Librarian Reviews

Something From Nothing

A heartwarming tale about a young boy and his grandfather’s magic blanket, for which he finds many uses throughout childhood. Originally published in 1992 by North Winds Press (Our Choice 1992 Starred Selection).

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

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