________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIIII Number 2. . . .September 14, 2012


Extra Yarn.

Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen.
New York, NY: Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins (Distributed in Canada by HarperCollins Canada), 2012.
40 pp., hardcover, $18.99.
ISBN 978-0-06-195338-5.

Subject Headings:
Humourous stories.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

**** /4


Extra Yarn is a quirky story about a magic box which young Annabelle discovers and finds that it contains an endless supply of yarn (think Strega Nona and the pasta pot). Once Annabelle is aware of the properties of the box, the colourless landscape of her town where “everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys” gradually takes on the soft greens, blues and oranges of the sweaters she has started to knit. internal art

     After even the animals have acquired sweaters,

Soon people thought, soon Annabelle will run out of yarn. But it turned out she didn’t.

     And the sweaters keep coming, for barns and birdhouses and lampposts. News of the yarn box spreads, but it is so precious because of the change it has effected on the town that Annabelle refuses to sell it to a snooty Archduke who has heard about the amazing object. When he steals the box and gets it home, he finds it empty and angrily hurls it into the sea.

     Of course, the box finds its way back to its original home where, it seems, only Annabelle is able to keep this special container offering up its “extra yarn”.

     California author Mac Barnett has written other books for children [his newest, out in June 2012, is Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My History Grade). His website describes him as ‘Mac Barnett, writer and strongman-for-hire’. Most of his work indicates he has a strong sense of the ridiculous, but this work is on the more wistful side – the story of a little girl, a bit of an outcast, having her life and the lives of those around her changed by something very simple.

     Jon Klassen, a product of Winnipeg, MB, has a background working in film animation and making pictures for other people’s books. His own first book, I Want My Hat Back, won the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year and was one of ALA’s Theodor S. Geisel Honor Books in 2011. A two-page spread in Publishers Weekly (20 February 2012) doesn’t hurt a fellow’s career either. The spare, wintry illustrations of Extra Yarn suit Barnett’s text to perfection. (And, Bear and Bunny from I Want My Hat Back make a return appearance, this time wearing not hats but sweaters.)

     A volume for school and public library picture book collections.

Highly Recommended.

Ellen Heaney is Head, Children’s Services, New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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