Title: Extra Yarn
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Themes: Creativity, Generosity, Giving, Knitting, Colour, Community, Different, Change, Greed
When I found this book earlier this year I thought to myself “This is going to be my favourite book of the year” I thought I’d be ready to make that call straight away, that’s how brilliantly perfect this book is. Mac’s story is simple, poignant, creative… perfect and Jon Klassen’s creative and playful illustrations are equally as beautiful and perfect… put them together and it’s the perfect picture book.
And I’ve not mentioned as yet how Jon manages to fit in an amusing cameo of his bear from “I Want My Hat Back”
Then, on the same bookstore visit I bumped into Jon Klassen’s other collaborative project “House Held Up By Trees” and was immediately torn, both were simply beautiful books, both I’ll review here, you can make the call, as for me and my house I’ll call it a draw.
Extra Yarn is the story of Annabelle, a young girl who lives in a cold little town that’s either the black of soot or the white of snow. One day Annabelle finds a magical box of yarn and makes herself, and her dog a jumper, yet there’s still more yarn…
Annabelle goes on a knitting rampage that changes the entire community adding colour, warmth and joy through the town an attracting the attention of a Duke who takes a special interest in her special box and plans to steal it from her.
Jon Klassen’s almost magical illustrations brings this story to life providing a world without colour and warmth and magically changing it before our eyes as the imagination of a young girl takes over.
Mac and Jon have created a masterpiece of wise & inspiring beauty, a story of a woollen revolution fuelled by the creativity of a young girl, her dog, a magical box and one heck of an ability to knit. It’s a story to share, and, like the wool will leave you changed and warm.
Lane Smith writes on the back of the book “Perfect”
And I think he’s right…
P.S. i ran a creative space based on the story of Extra Yarn for our Ministry Unfiltered weekend in which I filled the room with painted characters from the book and a lot of wool. In it I asked a handful of questions:
a) Can you remember a time when the generousity of a young person inspired you?
b) Can you remember a time when the creativity of a young person energised you?
c) Can you remember a time where an adult tried to squash/get in the way of that generousity/creativity?
d) Can you remember a time when the courage of a young person gave you courage?
e) what is a story that sustains you?
f) what’s the prayer that sits in your heart?
During which time I invited participants to tie a piece of the wool around their fingers for each story to remind them of the stories that are a part of their life and to spend some time using the wool to write/draw (using the wool) their prayer on the ground around them.