A Creative and Refreshing Picture Book
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrations by Jon Klassen
Annabelle lives “where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys,” so when she finds a small, ordinary-looking box filled with bright, rainbow-hued yarn, she knits herself a sweater. The funny thing is that there’s still yarn left, so she knits a sweater for her dog… and still has extra yarn. Annabelle then knits a sweater for a jealous bully, a classroom full of students and teachers, and all the animals. When she has knitted sweaters (and a single hat) for everyone in town, she still has yarn left, so she gets creative: she knits sweaters for the houses and trees too.
Word of her beautiful, colorful creations starts to travel, and people flock to admire the now vivid landscape where she lives. One of them, a wealthy and arrogant archduke, offers to buy Annabelle’s magical box, and when she rejects him, he steals it and sails away, only to find that this endless box of yarn is now suddenly empty. With the help of the ocean waves (and a bit of imagination), the box finds its way back to Annabelle where she happily continues her work in her now bright and appreciative town.
The illustrations unfold beautifully, starting in shades of gray and slowly evolving into subtle, colorful landscapes as each person, animal, and object is adorned in one of Annabelle’s creations. Jon Klassen’s signature understated style flows throughout, meshing with the simple, whimsical narrative. He also manages to sneak in a couple of beloved characters from previous books (the bear from I Want My Hat Back makes a hat-less appearance), all in good fun. The story itself is happy, almost cozy, in its simplicity, and it goes to show that a little imagination goes a long way.
Needless to say, I loved this book, but I think bestselling author/illustrator Lane Smith put it best. “There’s only one thing to say: perfect.” Thanks to a friendly neighborhood bookseller (Patti at Third Place Ravenna) for recommending it!
Copyright January 2012
Some images from macbarnett.tumblr.com
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