by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen
Extra Yarn is a quirky tale full of fairy tale magic and modern, deadpan humor that delivers a wonderful message about generosity and selflessness. This is a book that does what all wonderful pictures book do – it sparks the imagination of everyone who reads it. It celebrates childhood ingenuity and will empower children as they cheer for young Annabelle and her ability to change her town and the attitudes of the residents in it from cold and drab to full of color both inside and out.
Annabelle lives in a cold little town “where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from the chimneys”. Then Annabelle finds a special box of yarn and slowly brings warmth and color to the town one sweater at a time. First she knits a sweater for herself, then for her dog, then for jealous Nate next door and his dog and so on until the whole town, trees and building included, are covered in warmth and color.
But like the fairy tales this charming book reminds us of, there is a selfish villain in the story who wants to ruin Annabelle’s success in making her world a better place and keep the magical box of yarn for himself.
January weather for us is usually cold and bleak and this year is certainly no exception. Spring seems too far in the future to be within reach and the prospect of another month of limited sun and drab days puts me in need of a mood lifter. Extra Yarn is the perfect book to do just that. There still may be snow on the ground but my spirits were lifted by reading about Annabelle who used her magical box of yarn to make sweaters for the entire town. While the story talks of yarn and sweaters to me it seems what Annabelle is really giving is love. That's really what it's all about, isn't it?
In this Issue
It seems to me that every child has the habit, in some form or another, of saving and collecting treasures. Never mind that those treasures are usually of the spare button, rock, or 2-inch square of paper sort, they are treasures nonetheless.
I always enjoyed seeing the treasures my kindergarten students saved in their pencil pouches and hearing the reasons for keeping the precious items. I’m not sure parents were quite as amused when the items made the journey home, but I was never one to argue the merits of a prized rock or sparkly pencil stub. I remember one particular student who saved half of a broken sequin for almost the entire year, tucking it safely into a tissue to make the trip home on the last day school.
Do find that your young reader has a hard time parting with pieces left over from art projects, and you now have a large amount of yarn scraps on your art shelf? Or, if you are a knitter or crocheter, do little ones itch to get into your brightly colored stash? It's time to celebrate those habits and create a beautiful yarn hanging in celebration Extra Yarn.
Why We Like It
- It's fun to transform scraps into a work of art!
- Cutting lengths of yarn builds scissors skills.
- Gluing the individual lengths of yarn build fine motor skills.
- The finished project has a magical quality that matches the feel of the book.
Extra Yarn Yarn Hanging
What You Need
- A piece of thin cardboard – we cut a piece from a gift box
- Crayons or markers
- Yarn scraps – the more lengths and colors the better!
- Hole punch
How To Make It
- Cut the cardboard to the desired length and width.
- Using crayons or markers or any other decorating materials, decorate one side of the cardboard.
- On the reverse side of the cardboard, squeeze a line of glue and glue down the lengths of yarn. Once all the yarn has been added, squeeze an additional line of glue over the top of the first line to help hold the yarn. Lay the cardboard on a flat surface to dry.
- Once the glue is dry, join the ends of the cardboard together to form and circle and staple.
- Use the hole punch to make two holes on either side of the top of the cardboard circle.
- Cut a length of yarn to use for hanging, threading one end through each of the holes and knotting.
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It's a Snow Day today, and the picture outside my window is not unlike that of the snowy town featured in Extra Yarn. Snow Days (capitalized, of course, to emphasize their excitement) mean only one thing: Tomato Soup (with maybe a grilled cheese) and hot chocolate. Today, that tomato soup takes form in Yarn Soup.
Yarn Soup might sound odd for the name of a soup, but if you can have Stone Soup, why not Yarn Soup? It's easy to imagine that the strands of spaghetti swimming around with all the other usual soup ingredients like carrots, peas, and corn, are magically transformed into bits of yarn. This would be especially fun, and more like the yarn in the book, with some tri-color spaghetti.
There isn't really much for kids to do during the making of this soup, but it comes together so quickly that they won't mind watching. The fun in this recipe is all in the eating. How would you eat this soup: fork or spoon?
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cups tomato juice
- 4 cups water
- 6 ounces dry whole wheat spaghetti
- 1 12-ounce package mixed vegetables (we used the mix of peas, corn, carrots and green beans, but use your favorite)
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Finely chop onion and saute in hot oil until softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in tomato juice and water and bring to a boil.
- Add spaghetti and vegetables. Return to a boil and cook for about 13 minutes, until pasta is tender.
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