In July, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based KWiL Publishing will publish Hello, Crochet Friends! Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy by a debut author: 11-year-old Jonah Larson. This is proof that while writing a viral article can lead to a book deal, but so can being the subject of one. That’s exactly what happened after a January 2019 La Crosse Tribune article about Larson’s crochet skills went viral, breaking traffic records at the newspaper’s website.
The article detailed how Larson, who was adopted from Ethiopia, taught himself to crochet at age five by watching YouTube videos, and now creates blankets, table runners and mittens which he sells as part of his business, Jonah’s Hands. According to National Public Radio, “Jonah regularly donates some of his goods and money to the Ethiopian orphanage from which he was adopted as an infant.” The young crochet enthusiast also maintains a popular Instagram account, which currently has over 119,000 followers, where he’s crocheted with Senator Tammy Baldwin, among others. Larson also has over 19,000 followers on YouTube. Response to the initial article led to media coverage on “Good Morning America” and other national outlets; the crochet wunderkind was so inundated with requests he had to turn down “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
The book, which will be co-authored by the crochet prodigy’s mother, Jennifer Larson, with photos by Erin Harris, will mark the debut of KWiL Publishing’s Rock Star Kids imprint, a “collection of picture book autobiographies that include extensive, engaging back matter and are authored by kids who are doing incredible things with their lives.”
According to KWiL Publishing Founder and President/Publisher Abby Nies Janowiec, the deal came about quickly after she heard about Jonah’s crocheting talents through social media. “I contacted Jonah’s mother, Jennifer, on Saturday, February 9th,” Janowiec said in an interview. “At that time, she had also been contacted by several much larger publishing houses. She accepted my offer to submit a book proposal, and by the following Tuesday we had signed an agreement to publish Hello, Crochet Friends! Jennifer shared with me her desire to work with a publisher in Wisconsin, and we had a very similar vision for the book.”
The book will cover everything from the act of crocheting to its impact on the broader community. The publisher’s website detailing the contents reads in part, “Jonah welcomes readers into his process, sharing everything from his preferred crocheting atmosphere―end of sofa, lights dimmed, close to his mom―to his favorite stitches and yarns. How can Jonah crochet so quickly? He writes, ‘It’s like breathing to me.’”