‘Extra Yarn’, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen


Extra Yarn‘, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (published by Walker)

This beautiful book has actually been on our bookshelves for a while and we’ve enjoyed reading it from time to time over the last few months.  However, C pulled it out again on Thursday once it began snowing and insisted that we read it because it was a ‘brilliant snowy book’!  Never one to refuse a request for some story-time snuggles and certainly never one to argue with anything snow-related, we have now read it many times in the last two days and frankly I’m lucky I managed to snaffle it away to write about it here!

Anyway, the plot features a plucky heroine by the name of Annabelle, who finds a box of colourful yarn in her otherwise snow-white,  soot-black town.

(N.B.  C did require a little chat about the fact that yarn was another word for wool, but he didn’t seem to notice the other subtle linguistic differences that appear due to the fact that this is a book by an American author (for example, “She went home and knit herself a sweater,” where in the UK we would use the word ‘knitted’).)

Other then requiring a little more attention from me as I read it aloud, the above point in no way detracted from our enjoyment of the book.  Annabelle initially faces unwanted attention and even ridicule when she starts knitting sweaters for everyone…


…but soon enough they realise just how snazzy they actually look!


However, even once she has made a sweater for pretty much every person in her town, Annabelle STILL has extra yarn.  C just loves shouting, “EXTRA YARN” when we reach the end of each page and we realise that the knitting is still continuing!  Given that he also loves ‘I Want My Hat Back’ and ‘This Is Not My Hat‘ (both by Jon Klassen and also published by Walker), C instantly recognised some of the images in this spread:


and was delighted to realise that he could draw comparisons between different work by the same illustrator.  Klassen’s distinctive style seems stark and uncluttered from a distance, but get close up (as C likes to do!) and you’ll notice that the expressions on the characters’ faces, especially their eyes, reveal otherwise untold thoughts and emotions.

Annabelle’s knitting – fuelled by the seemingly never-ending amount of extra yarn in the box – transforms her town, both literally and figuratively, and people are soon flocking from far and wide to congratulate her on using the magical box of yarn to create the snuggly sweaters that are bringing a smile to everyone’s faces.  However, as is often the case when things seem to be going swimmingly, this is when the baddy (boooooooo hisssssss) appears to steal the box of yarn and throw a spanner in the works.


Luckily, the magical box of yarn is not so powerful in the hands of someone with less than virtuous intentions and, slowly but surely, the yarn finds its way back to its rightful owner 🙂


This is a truly lovely story, brimming with understated gorgeousness and an inspiring message about how being different is OK and how doing things for other people is a often surefire route to happiness and fulfilment.  On top of all that, the wonderful wintery setting of this book makes it perfect for sharing this weekend as we all skip around in snow-induced wonderment, so I humbly suggest you sledge off to your nearest bookshop forthwith and secure yourself a copy!



  1. Interesting to read your comments about the american text – I’m having to be careful of that know that my eldest can read and my youngest is starting – if I say something different from the text they both notice. It’s such a shame because it means so many great books – like this one – are just not really suitable (without some discussion) for classwork either – I don’t really want to be the one that explains about different spellings and so on to 5/6/7 year olds! Nor do I want British English to just be subsumed by American english gradually – and that does seem the way things are going,…

    1. Thanks for your comment, Zoe.
      Luckily C and H are not yet able to read most of the words in the stories we share (though C does memorise them, so I have to be very careful that I’m faultlessly consistent!) so I haven’t encountered a huge problem with American vs British English yet. It’s an issue I’m increasingly aware of though as, like you, I need to think carefully about which books I choose for storytelling sessions. I’m just grateful that this story appeared before it became more of an issue for me!

  2. […] are big fans of Jon Klassen’s work – see here for my review of ‘Extra Yarn‘ – but haven’t yet read anything by Lemony Snicket (the pen name for novelist […]

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