This book is a fabulously unique story. A bit random, but all the better for it. Author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen have knit together a children’s book that certainly stands out from the majority of those that fill the shelves these days. It is sweet, full of subtle humor, and each page urges readers onwards to find out not only what happens next, but what shows up in the captivating illustrations as well.
The General Outline of Extra Yarn
The main character, Annabelle, lives in a small town where the only color is white from snow, or black from chimney soot. One day, she stumbles upon a box filled with yarn that never runs out, no matter how many sweaters she knits. Annabelle is a happy soul, one in a town where many of the people seem grumpy. She also possesses a quietly indomitable spirit that does not get tamped down by her dismal surroundings.
We follow her and her little dog as she goes around and colors her town, and the people who live there, with extra yarn. As she does, things get brighter and much more cheery. It is no longer just a black and white town. She is doing a wonderful thing, but as with most wonderful things, someone tries to take it away. One night her box of yarn is stolen- but it seems that in the end, good things don’t necessarily work for those with ill intent.
What Are The Illustrations Like?
Superb! Jon Klassen has a very different style of drawing, and a wonderful way of coloring things. I had recently read the book ‘I Want My Hat Back’, written and illustrated by Klassen, and as I read ‘Extra Yarn’ I recognized the animals instantly as his creations. They defiantly stand out.
This book is mostly black and white, with only the yarn adding color, which in turn adds to the storyline, and it is just perfect that way. It makes the story all the more compelling.
Right off the bat this is not necessarily a story that you would expect to teach lessons about patience, or generosity, or the difference between acts of kindness and acts of behavior that are not so well intended, but somehow, in some clever way, it has all of those things woven into it.
The humor too, is a pleasant surprise. In each instance it shows up in throughout the book it is subtle, but defiantly there. That combined with the various characters, the storyline, and the fantastic manner in which it is drawn and colored creates one of those books that you can’t help but smile as you read along.
The Final Feeling Towards ‘Extra Yarn’
I have already mentioned the wonderful illustrations, the unique and special plot, and the lessons this book has to offer. I think it goes without saying now that overall I really enjoyed this story, and I feel others, especially children, will too. There is a very specific feeling one gets when they stumble upon a book they were familiar with as a child, one that got buried in the basement or lost in a closet somewhere. It is a great feeling to uncover that book, and for a moment be able to feel your memories attached to it so strongly. It seems to me that this could easily become one of those books for children who read it now, one that they will back upon with fondness, one that brings back a rush of feeling as they remember reading it growing up.