The Amazing Crafty Cat
My preconceptions of The Amazing Crafty Cat led me down the wrong path. I thought I’d get a craft-focused story of an animal who made things. Instead, this is a lightweight tale of a girl struggling to recover from a bad birthday at school.
There are a few crafts included, with templates in back, but most are just gluing bits of paper together. I expected more, and more imaginative, things to make. The simplicity of Charise Mericle Harper’s book is likely due to the target age range, from 6-10 years old. That would explain the basic, flat drawings and the straightforward, shallow story. The concept is great, but the execution disappointed me.
When making things, Birdie (a normal girl) thinks of herself as Crafty Cat and sees herself with ears and paws. This is not explained. (It’s also sometimes off-putting, as Birdie has to think of herself as a different person in order to solve problems.) Birdie is headed to school on her birthday, but the cupcakes she made get ruined. How will she save the day?
I expected more creativity than I got. For instance, there’s a bottle of olives involved in the story. I wanted to see them cut up and used to make more panda decorations (a favorite theme of Birdie’s) or turned into appetizers. But no. Instead, they are used for a joke about burps.
Backgrounds are missing except for the occasional talking flowers and clouds. I liked them for demonstrating fanciful creativity, a feature I found lacking in much of the book. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from this story, but it does say, at one point, “imagining can be fun.” The messages here, though, are muddled (as when we’re shown Birdie making crafts out of a math worksheet) and the outcome disappointing.
A sequel, Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis, is due out in August. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)