Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book #143: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Image from BarnesandNoble.com

Annabelle lives in a town that has been reduced to black soot and white snow. One day she finds a small black box filled with yarn of every color.  She knits herself a sweater and one for her dog, too, but there’s still extra yarn. So she begins to knit colorful sweaters for everyone in town. And when she finishes, she still has extra yarn. So she makes sweaters for things that don’t usually wear sweaters, like trees and houses, mailboxes and cars. The colorless little town becomes a riot of colors! Things are going great for Annabelle, until an archduke steals her box of yarn away. But when the archduke opens the box it’s empty! He flings it from his ship, cursing Annabelle and her family. But the box floats back to Annabelle and when she opens it there’s still some extra yarn.

The text of this fairy tale-ish story is equal parts description and dialogue, making it a great read aloud book. The illustrations are done in mostly neutral colors, browns, grays, and blacks, making the multicolored yarn pop out from the page. The crisp, sharp lines are broken up by tiny splatters of paint. Annabelle is a sweet protagonist, but it’s the supporting characters that steal the show with their quirky personalities and appearances. I especially love little Louis, a tiny bearded man with a hat and a cane. His one page cameo is priceless.

Pair this book with Woolbur for a storytime about yarn. Wear your most colorful sweater and invite kids to do the same. Follow up with some yarn and sweater rhymes, such as I’m Going to Take a Sweater. Create a yarn obstacle course by laying yarn on the floor in different patterns (lines, squares, circles, etc.). The kids have to get through the obstacle course without touching the yarn.

There are tons of yarn crafts out there and when in doubt you can always do yarn collage, but when I found this tutorial for scrap yarn wrapped branches it seemed the perfect craft compliment to this book. I haven’t tried this craft myself, but it seems like it would be easier for kids to wrap short branches that don’t have too many thin twigs attached. The shorter the branch, the faster the craft. My guess is that kids will want to change colors quite frequently, so feel free to bring in even your shortest yarn scraps.

 -Amy

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