- Craig Graziano
The gray of winter is dismal enough to turn even the cheeriest of smiles upside down. Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, is a much needed pick-me-up during these dreariest of times.
Annabelle finds a box of multicolored yarn in the snow. When she takes it home to knit a sweater, she finds that she still has more. So Annabelle makes a sweater for her dog, too. No matter how much she knits, the box always has extra yarn in it.
Illustrator Jon Klassen is a master of negative space. The snow-blanketed pages pop with life when we see Annabelle's polychromatic creations. She just keeps knitting for everyone in the town. She even gives a hat to Mr. Crabtree, who never wears sweaters or even long pants. BRRR!
Soon the animals are even wearing clothes. Mailboxes and pickup trucks are, too!
The story takes an unexpected turn when a grand archduke with a feather in his cap offers to buy Annabelle's miraculous box for one million dollars. Annabelle refuses, though it does not end there.
Barnett and Klassen are a good match for each other, with the writer toning down his usual frenetic humor and the illustrator challenging himself with the creation of a wintry world that is not a wonderland. Klassen even manages to cleverly slip in a favorite character from his own picture book.
This is a gentle story where magic comes from the simplest of places and where kindess is key. Just perfect for curling up by the fire. Knitting your own sweater for the occasion is optional, of course.