An Original Yarn

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

The synopsis from Amazon: “A monochrome town gets a change of color and attitude with the help of a box of yarn and a girl named Annabelle. From the seemingly endless box of Extra Yarn Annabelle knits clothing for everyone around her, tempering the ill-tempered, and creating beautifully patterned warmth for people, animals, and objects, alike.”

Truth be told, I was nervous about sharing this book for story time at first. Despite loving it personally, it seemed to be a bit of a ‘quiet’ book. I wasn’t too sure how well it would go over, if it would keep the kids enthralled long enough to be effective. So I waited on it. Then, the other day I saw it sitting on the returns shelf, picked it up, read it again, loved it still, and decided to take a chance on it.

I fit it into my “Royalty” story time theme (there’s an Archduke towards the end of the book), pairing it with Audrey and Don Wood’s King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub and doing the songs “Aroostasha” and “The Grand Ole’ Duke of York.” I did only the two stories and songs this time because Extra Yarn is a little long and we tend to lose our audience’s attention after about 20 minutes or so.

So what was the result, you ask? Were the stories good? You bet they were!

It wasn’t uproarious laughter like other books I’ve done but Barnett’s story and Klassen’s art kept the kids enthralled. They particularly liked the parts where a house, a mailbox, and a pickup truck all get the yarn makeover. I also had a lot of fun inventing voices for all the various characters; characters whom Klassen has portrayed so well that they easily lend themselves to specific voice: The Archduke was pompous and snivel-ish, Mr. Norman sounded like he had a plugged nose, and my favorite, Mr. Crabtree, had a slow, mellow kind of voice- but, of course, please come up with your own :-).

Sweet on Books mentions that Extra Yarn doubles as a beautiful allegory for how important it is to take care of our corner of the world and add a little beauty when we can, a la Miss Rumphius. I don’t know if kids will pick up on this or not, but it certainly presents some inroads for discussion if you are so inclined.

Find it at a library near you using WorldCat.

So there you have it. Extra Yarn is an extra good yarn for story time.

(I am SO sorry about that one, folks, but seriously, use the book, it’s good.)


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