Extra Yarn

  1. Title: Extra Yarn
  2. Author: Mac Barnett
  3. Illustrator: Jon Klassen
  4. Publisher and Year: HarperCollins, 2012
  5. Number of pages: 3
  6. Genre: Picture Book
  7. Analysis: In Jon Klassen’s book, Extra Yarn, a young girl named Annabelle finds a box of colorful yarn and knits sweaters for everyone in her town, then moves on to knit sweaters for everything there from trees and buildings to cars and trucks. She never runs out of yarn and keeps brightening up her otherwise dull and dreary burg. One day, an evil archduke offers to buy her box of colorful yarn for ten million dollars, but Annabelle refuses to sell it. At night, the archduke steals the box of yarn, but when he opens the box, he finds it empty, proving that you can own all the riches in the world, but you can still lack empathy and a care for the welfare of others.

However, despite the heartwarming plot and characters, so far as the picturebook codes in this story are concerned, there is not much to write home about. The most important element of the picturebook codes that I saw in this book was that of size. Towards the end, when Anabelle meets the Archduke as he sails into the town, she is much smaller than him, showing that he is the one in control of the situation when he attempts to purchase the box of yarn from her. However, when he resorts to stealing it from her, he is almost as small as the box itself as he throws it out of his castle window. The box itself is always bigger when Anabelle has it, showing her capacity for love and empathy through the box size itself as a metaphor. It and Anabelle are quite petite when her elementary school teacher demands she demonstrate her knitting prowess, but they both grow bigger as she knits more and more for the community as a whole. The illustrations are quite beautiful, as they are both black and white for the town, but colorful for Anabelle and her yarn creations. The illustrator chose a lovely strategy of using many shades of watercolors for the knitted materials, and it is all the more poignant when contrasted with the crisp white snow of the eternally cold-looking community. Finally, when it comes to special features, the only one that comes to mind is the fact that there are only very brief summaries on the book jacket, and the pages themselves are pretty text-averse too. The ideology of the book is that it want everybody to do selfless things for their community, and in doing so will be able to “find the yarn” that they were looking for inside of them all along.

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