Usually when I'm about to read a picture book, I flip through quickly and scan the images. When I sat down to read Extra Yarn today, I once again flipped through and then I had some extra time, since my little brother was finishing listening to a ebook story, in which I found myself thinking about and realizing consciously that I tend to do this flip preview and especially today I realized that this not only gives me a sense of the story but I then enter the story in a special way.
So although most people will probably not read/experience/see Extra Yarn in the way I'll describe below, this is how my eyes/brain/perspective viewed this charming, amazingly illustrated, quirky and modernly old timeish book:
So, here's the first spread (from Jon Klassen's website):
So first of all, flipping through, these are the things that stuck out to me: juxtaposition of stark images and wonderful color, a small girl in plain clothes and a dog, a boy in a Russian winter fur hat, village setting, flamboyantly dressed man, ocean, yarn, more yarn, wood, snow.
So before jumping into my somewhat outlandish reading, I want to say that this is one of the best picture books I've seen in a long time! Text and image worked so well together, and I like how they placed the image on the page, and the whiteness is awesome because it just adds to the atmosphere. While I was reading this together with my brother, I was totally inside this book, I was in the village and I totally bought that this magical and crazy unending yarn was there. And Annabelle is just awesome, isn't it just evident?
So with the mental images that I garnered through my flipping process in mind, this is the added layer that surfaced for me in the story. It reminded me of what a post-Soviet village might perhaps look like. A stark community where everything is painted in blacks and grays and browns, where the only light and hope is found in the miracle of snow, where surprisingly anything is still possible in the hopeful mind of this little girl who has been through so much; because despite the struggle, the poverty, the seeming lack of hope, sparks of the imagination have lingered in the private echos of her inner self, where anything is still possible, where life is alive and where finding a not so ordinary box with something surprise inside is still believable.
I know, crazy right? But this is what Extra Yarn sparked in the inner workings of my mind...
Some more spreads (1st & 3rd from Jon Klassen's website):
More reviews and thoughts:
- Thoughts from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Jules' (from Seven Impossible things...) talk with Mac Barnett over at Kirkus Reviews
- Review from Read Now Sleep Later Blog
- Review from the Horn Book for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, which Extra Yarn won (!)
And I'll leave you with this wonderful Mac Barnett quote from his talk with Jules for Kirkus on the awesomeness of quirkiness:
"The same plots get trotted out. Great ideas are shaved and sanded down until they look a lot like a lot of other things on the bookshelf. I like strange stories, shaggy stories, stories with knobby bits and gristle and surprises. And so I’m glad that people think my stories are quirky. All my favorite books have quirks. Although I think it is almost always more interesting to examine why something is quirky than to simply say that it is."