by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen - Harper Collins Childrens Books, 2012.
ages baby to 8 years / picture books + heartwarmers
I lent this book to my children’s school and it disappeared for a week or two. I shouldn’t have worried—it came back to me with a new plastic cover, making it one of our most carefully preserved books!
Here's how it goes:
Annabelle lives in a cold and colourless little town, but one day she finds a box of yarn of all sorts of colours. So she knits herself a sweater. Then, since there is ‘extra yarn’, she knits her dog a sweater.
And then she knits for friends, teachers, family, doctors and the various animals lurking around the town. Eventually, even the buildings get the sweater treatment from Annabelle’s apparently never-ending box of yarn. So the town is no longer dreary—it’s cheerful, warm and colourful.
But then, the villain of the piece arrives—a wealthy and greedy archduke who tries to buy Annabelle’s marvellous yarn box. Of course, Annabelle refuses to sell, but the archduke steals the box.
And that’s the cliff hanger, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens!
This is such a well-written book—words like this lend themselves so well to reading aloud:
"His Mustache quivered. It shivered. It trembled."
The illustrations are perfect—I especially love the last page which shows Annabelle being happy with her knitting and her dog. But she’s peaceful and calm and barely even smiling, a lovely representation of calm rather than exuberant happiness.
Obvious themes of sharing and kindness permeate, but there’s more. There’s caring for your community, a strong anti-consumerist message, and love oozing out of the pages. It's a fun present alone, but even more fun with wool and knitting needles (or a homemade finger-knitting set).