Monday, February 13, 2012

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

Mac Barnett is one of the funniest children's book authors that I've had the pleasure of reading. In fact, Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem and Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World are two of my favorite picture books, comedy or otherwise.  However, as you can probably tell from the soft-spoken cover, Extra Yarn is not another laugh-out-loud story. Instead, Barnett and Klassen have crafted a beautifully quiet and whimsical story that has as much charm as it does yarn.

Like the very pages of the timeless fairy tales that this story harkens too, Annabelle lives in a world that is "either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys." One day, this crafty little girl stumbles across a box of yarn that seems to have no end. Instead of questioning it or trying to gain anything from her marvelous discovery, Annabelle simply knits and knits and knits until everything is as colorful as the endless yarn in her magical box. But as you'd expect, for anyone who has something as truly amazing as Annabelle's box, there is always someone else who would do anything to get their hands on it. And soon Annabelle discovers that making her world a brighter place isn't as easy as kitting a sweater or a hat...or is it?
© 2012 by Jon Klassen

Barnett's droll and somewhat anachronistic (you'll understand what I mean when you give it a read) story is beautifully complemented by Jon Klassen's deadpan illustrations. From The Incorrigble Children of Ashton Place to I Want My Hat Back, it's clear that Klassen has mastered creating seemingly simple illustrations that are both quirky and charming. The pairing of these two talented guys was a brilliant idea and I believe the result was an enchanting and timeless tale. Annabelle's story could easily join the ranks of Rapunzel, Cinderella, and the like.

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