Extra Yarn – an extra-wonderful story

Is it too early in the year to declare a favourite book?!

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen is about a little girl in a grim, black and white world who finds a mysterious box filled with coloured yarn. From the first page, this story has a stark, gothic fairytale quality.

“On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either white of snow or black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color.”

Annabelle knits herself a technicolour jumper and then one for her dog, Mars. It’s a never-ending ball of yarn and soon Annabelle is knitting jumpers for friends, classmates, animals and more.

“So Annabelle made sweaters for things that didn’t even wear sweaters.”

And things began to change in Annabelle’s town. While you may think the story ends there in technicolour happiness, there’s a twist. It involves an evil archduke, thieves and, in true fairytale tradition, a curse.

Jon Klassen’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Barnett’s pared-back text. Well known for his illustrations in I Want My Hat Back, the drawings in Extra Yarn gradually move from hard-edged, stark images to textured, warm shapes with colour creeping onto the page.

I read lots of children’s books and can honestly say that creating a unique story with such a lovely, fable-like quality is no easy task. It’s rare to come across a book that is seemingly simple yet rich in meaning – Extra Yarn is that book.

Find Extra Yarn at Book Depository, with free delivery to Australia.

Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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