The Amazingly Crafty Cat
By Cherise Mericle Harper
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
The Amazingly Crafty Cat is first and foremost a young female reader’s graphic novel about solving problems by doing crafts. It even includes its own craft section at the end of the book (if you like pandas – Crafty Cat’s favorite). The story starts innocently enough, with Birdie, a young girl (a.k.a. The Amazing Crafty Cat) accidently dropping the panda cupcakes she made for her Birthday Break at school. Through trials and tribulations, things don’t go as planned, and The Amazing Crafty Cat has to come to the rescue. Luckily, with some simple tools The Crafty Cat seems to be akin to a deus ex machina getting Birdie out of tight spots at every turn of events. She is, however, extremely crafty in every sense of the word, and I see this young readers graphic novel as an interactive learning experience.
The writing is glib, even when breaking the fourth wall – making the reader aware that they’re actively reading and judging The Amazing Crafty Cat as they move through the novel (albeit I have a reserved opinion that this was for adults in active participation with their kids). It dwells in expository, however, and most of it could have easily been replaced with dialogue. The dialogue that was present was handled using a fine line between expository dialogue (which I do realize is necessary when writing a craft book) and plot driven dialogue. The story itself went from one craft to the next but there were plenty more to participate in at the back of the book. The crafts propelled the story and resolved the ending. For this achievement alone Harper should be congratulated.
The art was simplistic, and minimalist. There was just enough visual material to make the crafts learnable, in fact most of the detail came out in these sections. The rest of the story was illustrated in a quirky, childlike style – easy to emulate and incorporate into crafts. The crafts themselves are kind of fun: there are panda bracelets and panda necklaces all little treasures in a young girls eyes. In fact, the target demographic of this graphic novel seemed to be aimed at a young female audience. There are also hair ribbons and things most young boys wouldn’t be interested in. The art worked well toward its intended goals. The craft sections were easy to follow, and minimal equipment is needed (a pair of scissors, paper, glue, ribbon, sparkles, etc.) The instructions are clear and simple, and can even be done without adult supervision. Overall, the art carried through its envisioned purpose.
All and all, if you have a young girl who are into crafts (I know my nieces are), The Amazingly Crafty Cat is definitely worth a look at; for male readers, look elsewhere. Be warned: most of the crafts are panda centered, except for origami bunnies. Given the nature of the subject material, children should have no problem working from craft to craft, and if the parents get involved, the pandas can easily be replaced by kittens or any other animal with a ‘box-like’ shape.