Sunday, March 4, 2012

Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen (ages 4 - 8)

Do your children like to create things? That's like asking if the deer in my mother's garden like to eat roses, or if Peter Rabbit likes carrots. Children love to create things - whether it's lego machines or intricate drawings or bracelets for their friends. A wonderful new book, Extra Yarn, celebrates this creative spirit with a fun twist.
Extra Yarn
by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen
NY: Balzar + Bray / HarperCollins, 2012
ages 4 - 8
available at your local library, favorite bookstore and on Amazon
One dull winter day, Annabelle finds a box full of yarn - enough yarn to knit herself a sweater, and then one for her dog. There is extra yarn, and so Annabelle keeps knitting - a sweater for her neighbor, for classmates, for all the little animals. And she still has extra yarn. Soon, an evil archduke hears about Annabelle's magical box of yarn and he tries to buy it for her for a million dollars. But Annabelle is a strong, stubborn little girl who will not give into this sinister nemesis.

Our students have loved Extra Yarn - they respond to Annabelle's creative spirit, to her generosity and to her tenacious refusal to sell her precious box to the archduke. While the text and illustrations are subdued, the pacing and details are perfect - drawing readers into looking at each page, but pulling you through the story.

Klassen begins the story using only black, gray and brown tones over the white background, and then he slowly introduces the soft colors of the yarn. Throughout, he uses negative space to create shapes in a spare, fascinating way. For example, look at how Klassen has created the roof in the illustration above - it's really just the white background blocked out in the shape of the roof. Klassen's illustrations bring me back again and again.

Our students have celebrated Extra Yarn by helping our local independent bookstore, Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore, decorate their window with all sorts of hand knitting. Every recess, our Emerson knitters come into the library asking for more yarn - they have loved finger knitting. The creative, repetitive process of knitting taps into something for the children. Take a look at the fun we've had:

Do you see the evil archduke lurking amongst all the animals? Many thanks to Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen for inspiring us to keep the creative spirit alive, and to our local bookstore Mrs. Dalloway's for showcasing our student's creativity!

Other reviews:

The review copy came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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