Tuesday, September 23, 2014

‘Extra Yarn’ by Mac Barnett

Book cover: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen. Image depicts a little girl knitting and sweater-wearing animals amid the letters of the title, which are textured with the V shapes of Stockinette knitting
In Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, a little girl finds a box of yarn with knitting needles. No matter how much knitting she does, the box magically never runs out.

From knitting a sweater for herself and her dog, Annabelle goes on to outfit classmates, neighbors, forest animals and — while this term isn’t used in the text — she even “yarn-bombs” buildings and trees.

Illustrated by Jon Klassen, Extra Yarn was a 2013 Caldecott Honor Book. Much of the story is through the dramatic visual shift from a drab, gray snow-locked town to one in which everything is colorful and bright thanks to Annabelle’s knitting.

The text uses the repetition that Annabelle still had “extra yarn” to introduce each new transition.

Finally, “Things began to change in that little town.” A two-page, full-bleed spread displays a town blazoned with color, texturized with Stockinette stitch.

The combination of writing and illustrations make an engaging story. Unless you’ve experienced “yarn-bombing” in real life, the illustrations present familiar things in a dramatic new way.

I originally read this book after I’d embarked on a project I call “Yarn Bombing @ Your Library.” Through installing my own “tags” and curating pictures of other crafters’ work, I seek to draw attention to libraries.

Reading Extra Yarn made me decide to go public as a yarn-bomber. If it was mainstream enough to be the subject of a children’s book, how subversive could it be? I shared the book with classmates this week in my Children’s Literature online class.

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