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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Megan’s Book of the Day 7/3/09

Max Spaniel: Dinosaur Hunt, by David Catrow, Ages 3-7

9780545057486Max is no ordinary dog. He is a great hunter! His prize of choice? Dinosaurs! But Max simply can’t hunt dinosaurs inside. For that, he must go on a true adventure to the unexplored wild of the backyard. As this zany canine prowls the yard, he encounters bicycles, toys, a rake, and a gardening hose. But to Max, the intrepid dinosaur hunter, these items are no mere playthings and grooming implements–they are dinosaur bones! Piece by piece, the bloodhound puts together a towering display of dinosaurian strength that he is sure will strike fear into the hearts of any trespassers!

From David Catrow, beloved illustrator of the energetic Doggone Dogs and I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More, comes an equally entertaining picture book for young adventurers! Catrow’s text is simple and sparing, allowing his fantastic illustrations to shine brilliantly. The sketch and watercolor artwork is colorful and alive with movement and silliness. This is the perfect fast-paced summer read for children who are ready to get up and go! Additionally, Catrow’s design makes this book fantastic both for a read-aloud storytime and for beginning readers who aren’t quite ready for chapter books.

Max Spaniel: Dinosaur Hunt, David Catrow, pub. Summer 2009, Orchard Books

Need more recommendations for growing readers? Stop by or give us a call! Hooray for Books, 1555 King St., Alexandria, Virginia. 703-548-4092.

Have a safe and fun Fourth of July–and keep reading!

Miss Megan

Haley’s book of the day! 6/9/09

imagesCAVCBB1E I Love My Pirate Papa, by Laura Leuck, Ages 3-7

This week is pirate week here at Hooray for Books!  With our own gang of local pirates invading the ship each day during pirate camp (real training on how to be a true pirate :), I decided a pirate-inspired Father’s Day book could not be more appropriate!

I Love My Pirate Papa tells the tale of a young lad and his pirate dad who love to spend their days sailing the high seas together.  Papa likes to teach his son the ropes by showing him how to climb the stays, shimmy up the mast, and dig for buried treasure.  The inseparable pair do everything pirates normally do, but pirate papa is quick to remind his little buccaneer that while pirateering is his job and his plunders are special, the people in his life are what he treasures most!  In mind of Father’s Day, this book makes a great gift for dads to read aloud with their own little one and cannot be matched for its sweet ending, creative style, and bright illustrations.

I Love My Pirate Papa, Laura Leuck, Harcourt Inc., $ 16.00

Come into the store and visit us soon!

Megan’s Book of the Day 5/1/09

The Snaggle Grollop, by Daniel Postgate, illus. by Nick Price, Ages 3-7

the-snagglegrollopSam desperately wants a pet of his own, but his parents respond with a resounding “no” to his pleas for a dog or cat. His mom and dad, though, say that if Sam can find a “snagglegrollop,” then he can keep it. But when Sam comes home from school with an actual snagglegrollop of mythical proportions, his parents are understandably shocked. But a promise is a promise, so Sam takes over the care of the giant, lovable creature. As Sam and his family grow to love their unique pet, both the boy and the beast form new friendships and learn about the power of love.

Daniel Postgate’s story is a delightfully silly tale that will entrance excited young readers, and Nick Price’s colorfully zany illustrations are fantastically imaginative. Don’t miss out on this creative story that is sure to expand your little one’s imagination!

The Snaggle Grollop, by Daniel Postgate, illus. by Nick Price, pub. May 2009, Chicken House

Keep reading!

–Miss Megan

Megan’s Book of the Day 4/17/09

Today Is the Birthday of the World, by Linda Heller, illus. by Alison Jay, Ages 3-7

58824752_aOn the birthday of the world, God calls together all his creatures.  As the giraffe, the elephant, the beaver, the fish, the bee, the cow, and the child pass before their Maker, they are asked if they have been the best they could be.  Each one, after contemplating the way he has treated the earth, is able to answer with a resounding “yes!”  Satisfied with how his creations have treated their home, God declares that “there is no better birthday present.”

Linda Heller’s story is sweet and gentle, with an inspiring message perfect for a celebration of Earth Day.  Alison Jay’s illustrations, as usual, tie the book together with their colorful, muralistic style.  Don’t miss this lovely springtime tale to share with your little reader!

Today Is the Birthday of the World, by Linda Heller, illus. by Alison Jay, Dutton Books, pub. April 2009

Enjoy reading!

–Miss Megan

Megan’s Catch of the Day 3/27/09

The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown, Ages 3-7

36233007Liam loves exploring the old railroad tracks near his home! When he discovers a neglected patch of plants in his favorite stomping ground, Liam takes it upon himself to nurse the dying garden back to health. As water, sunshine, and love wake the garden up, it joins Liam’s exploration of the dull, gray city. Suddenly color and greenery are springing up everywhere, and the oldest, drabbest, most forgotten places are alive with springtime blossoms! Children will be delighted with this lovely tale of a tiny garden–and boy–who change everything around them with their infectious spirit!

Author and illustrator Peter Brown’s brilliant graphics capture beautifully the contrast between the muddy, smog-ridden tones of the story’s opening and the bright, cheerful burst of color that comes with the garden’s advance! With simple, sparing text, this picture book is a lovely marriage of visual art and gentle storytelling. Young readers will be charmed by this fantastic story that comes just in time for spring!

The Curious Garden, Little Brown, $16.99

Keep growing readers!

–Megan

Megan’s Pick of the Day 3/20/09

h9830My Mom Is Trying To Ruin My Life, by Kate Feiffer, Ages 3-7

Emma is convinced that her mom is trying to ruin her life! Why else would she do such shocking, embarassing things in public? Her mom kisses her all over her face! She surprises Emma at school! And she talks way too loudly! What’s a daughter to do? Stop her mother before she goes too far, that’s what! Emma hatches a brilliant plan to pedal her bike far away from her mother’s life-ruining plans. But she discovers a slight hitch: if her mother isn’t around, who will feed her? Who will tuck her in with a bedtime story? Who will chase bad dreams away? Emma makes the enlightening discovery that maybe her mom’s actions are just another way of saying “I love you.”

Kate Feiffer’s sparkling humor is accompanied beautifully by Diane Goode’s simple, colorful illustrations. This is an adorable, humorous read for moms and daughters to enjoy together–and a great warm up for Mother’s Day!

My Mom Is Trying To Ruin My Life, by Kate Feiffer, $16.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; ages 3-7

Keep reading!

–Megan