I am more than a little bit in love with Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by the always stylish Jon Klassen. It is not because I currently have a lot of extra yarn in my house from my former days of knitting semi-glory (some of it is in Gryffindor colours for a scarf I have yet to finish for my hubs. Sorry D. One day, one day). It is not only because it is a story that has more than one small dog wearing a sweater in it (not to mention plenty of other animals wearing tiny sweaters). No my friends, it is due to the fact that this book is perfect. There, I said it. Perfect. I cannot imagine it being better. It’s a good sign that it was hard for me to stop hugging the book to review it, right?
One day, in her cold and dreary town, Annabelle finds a box of yarn. It has every colour of yarn inside of it and she’s immediately captivated. Now because Annabelle is a useful and quirky and imaginative sort of girl, she goes home and knits herself a sweater. When she finds she has extra yarn, she knits one for her pooch, Mars. (There is a dog named Mars in this book. Don’t you love it when an animal character in a story is perfectly named?). When she’s done she finds she still has extra yarn. Can you see where this is going? Annabelle keeps on knitting. She knits for a grouchy boy and his grouchy dog. She knits for her classmates and oddballs. She knits for animals. And then she knits “sweaters for things that didn’t even need sweaters.”
This is the part of the review when I must pause and show you this:
Annabelle does not knit a phone booth cosy (the brainchild of this amazing group), but she does become a guerilla knitter. Do you know about this movement? It’s when knitters take to the street and knit things for places / objects that you’d never think require sweaters or else create knitted objects that interact with buildings / statues / stuff in the city. The group responsible for the knitted phone cosy above, is called Knit the City, and one of the reasons they give for doing what they do is to “wage woolly war on the mundane, humdrum and expected.” They believe that the world can be made better by this whimsical act. Have you ever seen the result of a little guerilla knitting? I have. On our Sunday walk we pass a park bench that has arm rests which have knitted covers. One week they were normal bench arm rests, and the next they were knitted. It wasn’t the most creative act of guerilla knitting, but we were still charmed to find it.
Back to Annabelle. Basically, she changes her whole town through her knitting. There’s a twist I won’t tell you about because I don’t want to reveal everything about the book before you have a chance to read it / hug it for yourself. Extra Yarn is about making your community better by doing something small and how that something small can sometimes become something bigger. You never really know where an idea will take you. It’s about creativity and being quirky and proud of it. It’s about magic and creating goodness. And dog sweaters. That too.
Make something. Make beauty. Be different.
And read Extra Yarn. Perhaps I will go finish that Gryffindor scarf now…
Before I go, one more delightful idea from Knit the City:
Extra Yarn is published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins. Thank you for sending me a copy to review!