This is probably going to be our last book review of the year, and it’s nice to end the festive period with books illustrated and authored by Jon Klassen. These titles are Extra Yarn, House Held by Trees and I Want My Hat Back.
This is a delightful heartwarming story about a little girl who has so much extra brightly coloured yarn that she is able to spread warmth and joy to everyone living in her cold, grey town. Upon discovering a box of yarn, little Annabelle begins knitting a jumper for herself, only to find that she still has some yarn left. She knits a jumper for her dog and still more yarn remains. The supply of yarn seems magically endless, such that she’s able to knit warm and cosy stuff for everyone in her town. Why is she able to do this? It’s because her kind innocent heart still believes in magic, and when the evil Archduke sets his eyes on the box of yarn, it doesn’t quite work for him.
The story is a simple, warm and cosy reminder of the importance of being good, and of a child’s ability to do magical and wonderful things if only he or she believes. The story may be by Mac Barnett, but it’s Jon Klassen’s beautiful yet simple illustration strokes that make the story come alive. I like how the yarn is drawn in subtly in bright colours, and yet it is balanced with how little Annabelle and her fellow town folks are drawn in grey. Some of the town folk’s facial expressions are rather funny too, wondering why this little girl keeps knitting and knitting. Jon Klassen’s illustrations are already very distinctive in this title, and he was awarded a Caldecott Honor award for his work. One will also see the appearance of a familiar-looking bear, which is the star in his debut picture book I Want My Hat Back.
House Held by Trees
This is a touching, moving story about change, the passage of time, how children grow up and move on with their lives, but the house which they lived in remains. Again, Jon Klassen’s signature illustrations fill the pages, and I like the way his illustrations seem to put us, the readers, as the observers as the story progresses. We are observing from behind some young bushes, hiding in the secret place, as we see the happenings of the house. We are observing from above, as we see the house without a single tree to give shade to the young family. As time passes, the lawn without a tree remains that way, as the family clear their lawn of any plants that might grow. Then the children grew up and moved away, and eventually, so did the father. Empty and without any human being to remove them, seeds settle and plants grow. Jon Klassen brings our attention to the plants as they slowly grow bigger and bigger and nature begins to take over, so much so that the house becomes ‘held’ by the trees. Together with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser, they tell a story about the power of nature, simply told and illustrated. This is such a powerful collaboration that the title is the first ever to win both the Kate Greenaway and Caldecott Medal award.
I Want My Hat Back
The keen observant reader will notice the familiar bear that appeared in Extra Yarn. The bear makes an appearance in Jon Klassen’s debut picture book, in an endearing way as he goes on a search for his missing hat. He does so patiently and politely, asking each and every animal he meets if they have seen it. Each animal replies in their own unique way that they have not, and this is where the lesson of empathy and understanding that every individual is unique can be taught. More importantly is the lesson of perseverance and determination. As the bear begins to lose hope and lies on his back in despair, a question asked by a certain animal triggers him, and he resumes his search with a renewed determination. It shows that when one gets frustrated searching for something, sometimes it is good to relax instead of being caught up in the frustration, because something will always trigger one’s thoughts to help in the search. It also shows, through a simple lost-and-found story, that as long as one perseveres, one will be able to succeed in the end.
Pansing is sponsoring ONE set of three titles Extra Yarn, House Held by Trees and I Want My Hat Back for ONE winner. Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. Most are optional, but they do give you more chances to win. Good luck!
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Disclaimer: We received two sets of three titles Extra Yarn, House Held by Trees and I Want My Hat Back for the purpose of this review and giveaway. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own, unless otherwise indicated.