Title: Extra Yarn
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Balzr + Bray
Publication Date: 2012
Audience: 4-8 years
Summary: One cold afternoon in a colorless town covered with white snow and black soot a little girl named Annabelle found a box full of colorful yarn. Annabelle went home and knit herself a sweater; extra yarn was left. So she knit a sweater for Mars, her dog and still there was extra yarn. She knit a sweater for a boy who made fun of her and for his dog. Again extra yarn. She knit sweaters for all of her school class and the teacher so they wouldn’t be distracted by the bright colors she wore. Soon all the animals in town wore sweaters as well as the buildings, the mailboxes, and a truck. The town was changed. Word of Annabelle and her endless supply of yarn spread and reached an archduke who was very fond of clothes. He tried to buy the box of yarn and when Annabelle refused, he stole it. When he opened it at home, he found it empty so he threw the box into the sea uttering his family curse on Annabelle, “You will never be happy again.” But the box floated home to Annabelle, full of yarn once more, and she was.
Literary elements at work in the story: The wonder of this story is not the words but the pictures as Annabelle’s knitting clothes the town with color. The brief text is just enough. The book has the feel of an uncomplicated fairy story.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? These perspectives intrude very little in a story of magic. Annabelle is a girl and the dominant figure. One man stands in the snow with few clothes and will only accept a hat so some difference is celebrated. The villainous duke is rich, casting a shadow on wealth. There is no ethnic diversity.
Theological Conversation Partners: This is a book to read for fun; don’t immediately try to extract a moral from it. Any adult will recognize in this story unexpected bounty, a generous spirit, the effect of beauty and the sterility of greed, all important topics in the Christian life. This book will be read many times and some of these observations may emerge in discussion. Annabelle is a model of good stewardship as she shares the gift that has come her way and makes her surroundings beautiful. John the Baptist reminds us of what to do with extra gifts in Luke 3:10. Selfish greed cannot receive such a gift. We are, of course, recipients of such bounty every day, not by magic but by God’s providence. Psalm 104 and Matthew 6:26-30, Genesis 1 may help readers to name some of these gifts. Beyond material gifts we have spiritual gifts. John 14:2-27; Galatians 5:22. The story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath is a similar story in the Bible. I Kings 17:8-18.
Faith Talk Questions:
- How did Annabelle get the box of yarn. Where did it come from?
- How did Annabelle’s knitting help the town?
- Why did the Duke want the yarn?
- Why was the yarn gone when the Duke opened the box?
- Have you ever received an unexpected gift? What did you do with it?
- What gift or gifts have you received that you can share without having any less?
This review was written by graduate and regular contributor Virginia Thomas.
Extra Yarn by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.