Extra yarn written by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Published by Balzer + Bray, 2012. Hardback, 40 pages.
Extra Yarn, winner of a Caldecott Honor 2013 and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, as well as a New York Times bestseller, is the story of how a young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community.
Starred review from Booklist.org:
“This picture book is certain to spark the imagination of every child who comes upon it, and what could be better than that? Annabelle lives in a black-and-white world, where everything is drab, drab, drab. So imagine her surprise when she finds a box filled with yarn of every color. Armed with the yarn and knitting needles, she makes herself a sweater, but when she finishes, she finds that she has extra yarn left over. After knitting a sweater for her dog, her classmates, and various (hilariously unsurprised) bunnies and bears, she still has extra yarn. So, Annabelle turns her attention to things that don’t usually wear wool cozies: houses and cars and mailboxes. Soon an evil archduke with a sinister mustache “who was very fond of clothes” hears about the magic box of never-ending yarn, and he wants it for his own. Reading like a droll fairy tale, this Barnett-Klassen collaboration is both seamless and magical. The spare, elegant text and art are also infused with plenty of deadpan humor. Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, 2011) uses ink, gouache, and digital illustration to fashion Annabelle’s world out of geometric shapes, set against dark, saturated pages, and against white as the town comes to colorful, stitched life. Quirky and wonderful, this story quietly celebrates a child’s ingenuity and her ability to change the world around her.”
Our read aloud of this book:
This is a picture book I purchased and gifted to our Library on International Book Giving Day, after hearing so much about it from other librarians and teachers in the international ‘book-lovin-blogger-twitter-verse’. I felt after reading it that it was very special. After reading it aloud to classes from Preschool – Year 4, I am convinced my initial feeling was absolutely ‘spot-on’ and that it is very special indeed.
This is one of those picture books that seems to engage all listeners regardless of age. I usually have a few fidgeters in my read alouds, as I have some children who have English as a second language and others that have limited experience of being ‘read aloud to’, and who find it difficult to sit still and actively listen. Reading this book engaged those hard to reach children.
As the knitting is gradually added to Annabelles world, the splashes of colour really pop against the black, brown and grey tones on a white background of the early illustrations and even children sitting towards the back of the group were able to enjoy the pictures.
What I loved about the story is how many links there were between the text and ideas portrayed in the story and units of inquiry that my students are currently exploring in the classroom as part of the PYP: (Year 5 : How we express ourselves (uniqueness) Year 2 : Where we are in place and time (change) ; Kindergarten, Y1 & Y2 & Y3 : Who we are (friendships) etc…
Important themes in the book: Community (bringing people together, connections, sharing), bullying/kindness, creativity and the visual arts, change – adding color, bringing happiness. The story feels like a modern fairy tale.
The read aloud led to a lively discussion about the story and possible explanations for how the yarn disappeared for the archduke and reappeared for Annabelle; but also modern concepts such as yarn bombing and guerilla knitting.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story to my students, I loved how they sat either transfixed, or laughing out loud, and how their faces showed that their natural curiosity was piqued. Reading this story has reinforced my belief in the power of the picture book for all ages.
- http://classroombookshelf.blogspot.co.nz/2012/10/extra-yarn.html . This comprehensive article elaborates on some of the points I have only had time to touch on. The article is divided into three sections: Book Review, Teaching Invitations (Grades K-2: The power of the refrain; Insights into bullying; creating with yarn. Grades 3 and up: Illustrations as metaphors; Genre study (Folklore) Mentor Text for Writing with Purpose; Light and Darkness in Illustrations; Community Transformations. Critical literacy: The Question of “Selling Out”). Further Explorations (Online resources i.e. author/illustrator websites, craft websites, folklore websites; Books: other titles that have artistic or literary similarities to this one, or those that could be used to convey similar messages).
Browse inside the book at the Harper Collins Childrens website here:
Book trailer made by a Library Studies student:
Mac Barnett: Reading part of Extra Yarn aloud (video uploaded to YouTube by abeecher930)