Extra Yarn
Extra Yarn
Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen
ISBN 9780061953385
Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins, 2012.
The Boston Globe-Horn Book Winner for Picture Books
4 ½ stars
Keywords: abundance community extra-yarn friendship knitting mac-barnett pets

Extra Yarn
by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen

“On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color.” So begins Barnett’s (Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem) gently humorous and uplifting tale.

Annabelle knits a sweater for herself and her dog, Mars, and “there was still extra yarn.” When a boy named Nate makes fun of her and Mars (“You two look ridiculous,” he says), Annabelle replies, “You’re just jealous.” Though he denies it, “it turned out he was.” Nate and his pooch, sporting sweaters, look less mean and downright contented. Barnett’s turn of phrase becomes a refrain of sorts, as Annabelle and her boundless bounty of yarn wrap classmates, townsfolk and even buildings in colorful wool. A greedy archduke tries to buy the box of infinite wool for upwards of one million dollars, but Annabelle turns him down. And when he plots to steal the box, he gets his just deserts.

Klassen’s (I Want My Hat Back) sepia-toned illustrations of wooden-plank fences, birch trees and clapboard houses make the rainbow-colored makeovers pop. He connects the sweater-clad villagers with a hanging colorful thread, as if he did not lift his paintbrush except to turn the page. It acts as a subtle metaphor for the common thread of Annabelle’s kindness, which connects them all. Barnett and Klassen prove that a heartfelt homemade gift can nearly always warm a hard heart.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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