Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book review: Extra Yarn

Extra-yarn-coverThis lovely picture book has been widely reviewed* so you may have heard about it already, but I thought I’d share before I shelve.  My children are getting a bit too old for picture books like this, but naturally I can’t stop collecting them.

This is a dreamy book with a muted palette that reminds me of Polar Bear Night, one of our favorite picture books ever. It invites the reader to slow down and absorb the tale.

The story is set in a very black-and-white and timeless place (coal mining town?) in the middle of winter, so the illustrations are filled with contrast between light and dark.  A girl, Annabelle, finds a box filled with colorful yarn. She knits a sweater but has extra yarn.  So she knits a sweater for her dog – still, extra yarn.  Then she knits a sweater for the boy who teases her about the sweaters – which he likes – and still, extra yarn.  The box seems to contain an endless supply.  So Annabelle knits sweaters for everyone in her school and then in the town and then for all the animals in town and then for the buildings themselves.presentingbooks:

Extra Yarn (2012) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Yarnbombing the town gets the attention of outsiders, who begin visiting to see the sweaters and to meet Annabelle.  Eventually, an archduke shows up.  He wants to buy the box of yarn, but Annabelle refuses to sell.  In the dead of night, he steals it and sails back to his castle.  When he opens the box, it is empty.  He tosses the box out the window, and it makes its way over the sea (like Moses in the basket) back to Annabelle, who is living happily ever after despite the archduke’s curse.

This is a lovely tale about how a creative, DIY spirit can transform a place – and how the aesthetic created by that spirit can’t be bought or stolen.  As you might imagine, the pages become more and more colorful as the story progresses (except for the archduke’s world, which is very gray).  Illustrator Klassen must know something about knitting because his stitches actually look like stitches (incidentally, he worked on the Coraline movie).

This book first caught my attention when I read that Lane Smith has called it “perfect.”  I think Lane Smith is perfect, so I was immediately interested.  And thanks to my sister outlaw Jennifer for giving me a children’s book for Christmas, even though I’m WAY out of the target audience (the book jacket says ages 4-8).  She gets it!


*A few reviews that cropped up in places I frequent:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review! You should do this professionally. Better than any LJ review I ever read...

    I wonder if Annabelle would let me borrow her box for just a short while...