TUESDAY, 20 AUGUST 2013

Why children are wiser (and happier) than adults

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Extra Yarn
by Mac Barnett
written for ages 2-7 | highly recommended
published in 2012 | Balzer + Bray | 40 pages

Words of G. K. Chesterton came to mind as I read this book,

"[W]hen fundamentals are doubted, as at present, we must try to recover the candour and wonder of the child; the unspoilt realism and objectivity of innocence...We must invoke the most wild and soaring sort of imagination; the imagination that can see what is there." (The Everlasting Man)

It is a colourful, quirky story about a little girl who finds a ball of yarn that never seems to run out. She knits colourful jumpers for herself, her family and friends, her animals, and even for cars and houses, but still there is extra yarn. When a greedy duke tries to buy the yarn and is refused, he resorts to stealing it. But once it is stolen, it vanishes completely. The duke curses the girl, but she remains happy with all her knitted goods and the friends who wear them.

Readers have speculated on the symbolism of the yarn, and the many plausible interpretations indicate the quality of the story. I wondered if it might be a metaphor for happiness, or perhaps for love. The more you give it away, the more it grows, never running out so that everyone can be covered with it. And as the greedy duke discovered, you cannot steal love, and neither can you curse those who give it. Because giving it freely makes you happy, and produces more.

It is fitting that a children's book would have the "wild and soaring sort of imagination" needed to visualise something so profound.

Clare Cannon is the editor of www.GoodReadingGuide.com and the manager of Portico Books in Sydney.


MORE ON THESE TOPICS | picture books

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Reading Matters is MercatorNet’s blog about children’s literature. Our goal is to enable parents and educators to find quality books for young people. For an explanation of our evaluation system, click here. We welcome reader input and new reviewers. We love comments on the book reviews. Write to us at jennifer.minicus@mercatornet.com.


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