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Extra Yarn Hardcover – January 17, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month for Kids, January 2012: A monochrome town gets a change of color and attitude with the help of a box of yarn and a girl named Annabelle. From the seemingly endless box of Extra Yarn Annabelle knits clothing for everyone around her, tempering the ill-tempered, and creating beautifully patterned warmth for people, animals, and objects, alike. When a greedy clothes-loving archduke tries to buy--then steal--the box for himself, he discovers that ill-gotten gains bear no fruit--or in this case, yarn. Mac Barnett’s elegant and clever story is complemented by Jon Klassen’s illustrations, and fans of I Want My Hat Back will enjoy the familiar faces that show up in this picture book about the magical properties of kindness and generosity.--Seira Wilson

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*Starred Review* This understated picture book is certain to spark the imagination of every child who comes upon it, and what could be better than that? Annabelle lives in a black-and-white world, where everything is drab, drab, drab. So imagine her surprise when she finds a box filled with yarn of every color. Armed with the yarn and knitting needles, she makes herself a sweater, but after she finishes, she finds that she has extra yarn left over. After knitting a sweater for her dog, her classmates, and various (hilariously unsurprised) bunnies and bears, she still has extra yarn. So, Annabelle turns her attention to things that don’t usually wear wool cozies: houses and cars and mailboxes. Soon an evil archduke with a sinister mustache “who was very fond of clothes” hears about the magic box of never-ending yarn, and he wants it for his own. Reading like a droll fairy tale, this Barnett-Klassen collaboration is both seamless and magical. The spare, elegant text and art are also infused with plenty of deadpan humor. Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, 2011) uses ink, gouache, and digital illustration to fashion Annabelle’s world out of geometric shapes, set against dark, saturated pages, and against white as the town comes to colorful, stitched life. Quirky and wonderful, this story quietly celebrates a child’s ingenuity and her ability to change the world around her. Grades K-2. --Ann Kelley
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; First Edition edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061953385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061953385
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Valerie A. Baute on January 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Extra Yarn is a very sweet story with adorable illustrations. A girl lives in a dreary world until she finds some colorful yarn in a box. It seems to be quite magical as she can knit garments for everyone! She even goes beyond that and starts knitting for animals and even buildings, turning her black and white world quite colorful. When someone tries to buy the box from her, there is no price that she would take for it, so that person decides to take it instead! What is going to happen? You have to read to find out, but I will tell you that it is a wonderful ending.

The illustrations in this book are by Jon Klassen. He has a very distinct style. He actually just wrote and illustrated a book, I Want My Hat Back, where the main character is a bear. The book is now a Theodore Seuss Geisel honor book and the bear makes a wonderful appearance in this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I've never knitted anything in my life. Not a thing. But I would imagine there's a lot of satisfaction in creating an item of clothing out of nothing and a ball of yarn. Of fabricating something, however minor. This concept of making an impact on the world, one small piece at a time is at the core of Extra Yarn. Full of beauty and humor, it's a book that will likely stick with you after the story is done.

When Annabelle finds a box filled with multicolored yarn, she does what you might expect - she knits a sweater. But there is extra yarn, so she knits sweaters for others - classmates and teachers and even animals. Still: more yarn. She begins to cover her entire cold, drab town in rainbow knitwear - including buildings and trees. The change is dramatic. Before long, an archduke arrives and offers Annabelle riches in exchange for the box. When she refuses, the archduke has it stolen. But it is for naught - he finds the box empty and angrily tosses it in the sea, where it eventually returns to Annabelle.

The conclusion will have kids asking the question - why was the box empty for the archduke? Camp #1 will say "well, the yarn just happened to run out", while Camp #2 will likely infer that the box was empty because it needs Annabelle for the magic to happen. Count me a member of the latter group.

Some subtle humor comes into play, particularly when Annabelle begins knitting for the benefit of inanimate objects, covering mailboxes, houses, and pickup trucks in sweaters. This sort of absurdity fits with Barnett and Klassen's previous work.

The ink, gouache, and digital illustrations (which bring to mind Alice and Martin Provensen's work in Caldecott-winner A Glorious Flight) are understated and gorgeous.
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Format: Hardcover
When I was trained as a writing tutor in college, one of my first lessons was on making writers read their work aloud. If they stumbled over sentences as they read, you knew you had something to fix. I often think about this as I read books to my son. The flaws of some books become quite obvious when you read them aloud. This is not the case with Extra Yarn.

I love the physical experience of reading Extra Yarn aloud to my son. The sentences are strong, as is the rhythm. It is a delight to read. The illustrations are also lovely. While the yarn of every color plays a central role, the color is actually quite subtle.

The story does get a bit dark toward the end, which was a little surprising, but is still appropriate for young children.

I am not a knitter, but still thoroughly enjoy this book. My two-year-old son loves it and has asked to read it nearly every night since we got it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...this is a "perfect" book.

For heaven's sake, it's a kids' book about yarn bombing. Need I really say more?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a knitter, I try to buy every good knitting book that comes along. Having heard about a children's book on the subject, my interest was piqued. I just finished reading Extra Yarn and was delighted. It is a story about a little girl named Annabelle who finds a box filled with yarns of every color. She knits herself a sweater and ends up knitting sweaters for almost everyone in her town. She even knits cover-ups for things that don't need sweaters - like cars, mail boxes, houses, etc. The box that the yarn comes from is a magic box and the yarn it contains is never-ending.

The book reads like a fairy tale. There are the good people and the evil ones. Good prevails and this is a wonderful character study for children ages 4-8. It is also a wonderful ode to yarn and knitting that will charm every knitter who reads it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very neat book. The artwork is appealing, the humor is subtle but very fun. The story has kid-appeal with some classical storytelling elements, and seems loveable enough to reread and retell over and over.
However, I purchased it for a very young 3-year-old from a knitting family and think I'll need to save it until she is a little older to give as a gift.

My two worries:
1. The archbishop sends three robbers into Annabelle's house to take the yarn while she is sleeping.
2. When he finds the yarn box empty, the archbishop curses Annabelle: "Little girl, I curse you with my family's curse! You'll never be happy again!"

While these are classical fairytale elements and not especially frightening in the context of this book, it should be noted that Annabelle's home, town, and school are not a fairy tale setting - they're modern. Very young children who are still figuring out fantasy and reality do well with "bad guys" in castles, on pirate ships, and in other settings that make it clear that it is "not here". This story could create some anxiety for a very young child about robbers coming to their home in the night.
As for the curse, it just didn't seem like something I'd introduce to a toddler or very young, sensitive preschooler.

Don't get me wrong - I love the book! I think it is best suited for ages 3 1/2 - 6, with perhaps a "word to the wise" given to parents of children who are worriers, especially at bedtime. 4 stars for the artwork, enjoyable storyline, and good "conversation starter" of an ending. It would have been 5 stars if those two pages were worded in an ever-so-slightly different manner.
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