In this oddly old-fashioned yet modern folk-tale, Klassen’s spare and subtle style of illustration combines with Barnett’s quirky prose to present us with a story that could have been written long, long ago and far, far away. And it is quite a ‘yarn’.
Annabelle finds a magic box of yarn. We know it is magic because no matter how much wool she knits, the supply never dwindles. She quietly transforms her village and community, despite the machinations of an evil archduke and his three robbers. There is a nicely rounded ‘happy-ever-after’ feeling to the ending where, with very little fuss, good appears to have triumphed over evil. A black and white world has been gently enhanced and made more complex.
I read this story aloud to two children: G, a boy aged 4, and S, a girl aged 9. They were full of ‘Yeah buts’ and questions afterwards. S wanted to know who had sent the box in the first place. Was it meant just for Annabelle? Yeah but what would have happened if a person who couldn’t knit had found the box? Would they have just dumped it? G asked why nobody seems to be smiling much. S wondered what the archduke wanted the box of yarn for. Yeah but he probably doesn’t even knit! G was sceptical about whether the animals liked wearing jumpers. And is the box still full of wool at the end? What will Annabelle do with it next?
Yeah but they also demanded rereads. The story was compared to The Magic Porridge Pot but, as S said, there were no magic words needed. Annabelle could just stop knitting whenever she wanted.
This story will enchant pre-schoolers and 4-6 year olds. It could also provide a rich discussion starter for older children.