Monday, 27 August 2012

review: Extra Yarn

by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen
Balzer + Bray, January 17 2012
picture book magical realism

Annabelle one day finds a box of yarn. After knitting a sweater for herself and for her pup Mars, she has some extra. And even after knitting sweaters for all her classmates, the entire population and assorted houses and b√Ętiments, Annabelle still has some extra yarn. Then one day an archduke who's very fond of clothes decides he wants the yarn for himself...
The cover:

Love the neat rectangular blocking of the image, complete with various animals and our heroine draped across the yarn-covered letters. The snowy-white background is a relevant and excellent touch.

The book:

Jon Klassen can do no wrong. We'll talk about the illustrations first, because, I repeat, Jon Klassen can do no wrong. His I Want My Hat Back was flawless and he even illustrated a Governor General Award-winning Canadian picture book. AND he was on the animation team for Coraline (the film) and Kung Fu Panda (2). *mind boggles* But in general, his illustration style is beautifully sparse and sleek; there's a sort of geometry to his paintings that is subtle and beauteous at once. And he does the wintry landscapes of Annabelle's town wonderfully.

Mac Barnett's writing is exactly why not every picture book needs to be in rhyme. His kind of prose is dream picture book prose, with repetition and contrast and sentences beginning with "So" and "And" and "But", my favourite kinds.
And when Annabelle and Mars went for a walk [in their knitted sweaters], Nate pointed and laughed and said, "You two look ridiculous."
"You're just jealous," said Annabelle.
"No, I'm not," said Nate.
But it turned out he was.
Agh. Love it. <3 Barnett doesn't shy away from paragraphs composed of one sentence, and neither does he feel the need to dictate the storyline. Instead, Klassen's vivid illustrations fill the spaces. And I don't use the adjective vivid to mean colour, energy, passion; I'm talking of blocks of shades, details that make the story into its own world.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5