Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Day 217: Extra Yarn

I first discovered Extra Yarn a few weeks ago when I spent my heavenly solo afternoon browsing children's books in a local bookshop.  It was one of several books that I read through that day and added to my "library list" as a must find to bring home and read with my kids.  What I really wanted to do was buy my own copy right then and there, but I already had three other books in my purchase pile that would use up my gift card so I had to cut myself off somewhere.  Fortunately, my local library had it when we went last week, and my children and I have loved reading it (multiple times) every day since.

Extra Yarn is a charming, fairy tale-ish story of a young girl, Annabelle, and her magical box of yarn. The beauty of Mac Barnett's words and the brilliance of Jon Klassen's illustrations is obvious from the very first page:

"On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color." She knits herself a sweater, and when she still has yarn left over, makes one for her dog, too.  But even then, she has extra yarn.  Annabelle proceeds to knit sweaters for everyone and everything in town -- even things that don't wear sweaters, like mailboxes, houses, and birds! -- and soon, she and her magic box of yarn have completely transformed the town.  News of Annabelle and her yarn spreads far and wide, and one day, a fashion-loving archduke arrives wanting only one thing:  the magical box of yarn.  He offers her millions of dollars in exchange, but Annabelle always politely refuses.  Furious, he steals her box of yarn and sails back to his castle, only to discover the magic box of yarn empty!   In one last act of magic, Annabelle's box of yarn makes it way across the sea and back to her.

I love the classic feel of this tale and the way the story and the illustrations bring the magic to life on each page, but for a long time, I couldn't quite describe just why I love this book so much.  There is something more to it than simply the fabulous illustrations -- which are truly unique and lovely -- and the wonderful story, itself.  I've since come to realize that what I also love about this book is the warm feeling of optimism that I get when I read it; the idea that one young person and her sweet, quiet determination has the wondrous power to bring happiness and color to an otherwise cold place.  Yes, this book is truly something special.

When I looked up this book so that I could add its picture to this post, I saw that I wasn't the only one who thinks it is really great.  Turns out it is a 2013 Caldecott Honor Book, the winner of the 2013 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award, and the winner of the 2012 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Picture Books.  So there you go!  (My local library must have gotten their copy before the awards were given, for no Caldecott sticker graces its cover.)  Needless to say, Extra Yarn quickly moved from our "library list" to our "must own" list.  Now my daughter is asking me to read it to her -- for the third time today -- which I am always more than happy to do.  Enjoy!


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