A Heartwarming Read for Wintertime: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

I think we can all agree that it’s been a freakishly warm winter this year. Where is the snow? The gross grayish-brown slush? The puffy jackets and cozy socks? Dare I say that I miss those cozy socks?

Yes, I do miss those cozy socks. I do. There. I said it.

How timely, then, that Mac Barnett’s delightful Extra Yarn landed in my hands yesterday, just as I was (absurdly, stubbornly) missing winter. It’s the perfect cozy, curl up by a roaring fire with a steaming mug of hot cocoa kind of read. And it’s illustrated by Jon Klassen, who I think I can safely say every bookseller at HFB is obsessed with after reading his hilarious I Want My Hat Back. (That’s a blog post for another time. Stay tuned.)

One day, in the middle of a cold, black-and-white winter, a little girl named Annabelle discovers a box. This is no ordinary box dropped in the snow, but an incredible box filled with brightly colored yarn. After she knits herself a cozy sweater, Annabelle has some extra yarn. So she makes a sweater for her dog, too. Since there’s still extra yarn, she knits sweaters for her friend Nate and his dog. Somehow, there’s enough extra yarn to make sweaters for her class at school. Soon all the townspeople are sporting brilliantly-colored sweaters and hats! And Annabelle just keeps knitting, creating soft, warm winter wear for woodland creatures, homes, and even a pickup truck.

When a fashionable archduke hears of Annabelle’s extraordinary box of extra yarn, he gets greedy. He offers Annabelle one million dollars, and then two million, but she is unimpressed. And so, as is the way of evil archdukes, he steals the box and spirits it away to his castle. But when he opens it with great anticipation, all he finds are two knitting needles and a whole lot of emptiness. Enraged, he hurls it into the sea, where it floats (you guessed it) back to the shore of Annabelle’s now brightly be-yarned village. Hope, happiness, and infinite possibility are restored to their rightful place.

If a hug took on the form of a book, it would be Extra Yarn. It’s simply impossible not to love this bright, affable read. Mac Barnett keeps the story simple, gently humorous, and fairytale-esque. And Jon Klassen’s folksy illustrations are perfect. Nothing is overdone, not the starkness of winter, not the bright explosion of yarn. The graphics are restrained, beautiful, and like the story itself, simple and lovely.

It’s illogical to miss winter when it’s a balmy seventy degrees outside, but this hopeful little story managed to make me do just that.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen; 16.99; Balzer & Bray/Harperteen; Ages 3-7

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