Goodreads: The Amazing Crafty Cat
Series: Crafty Cat #1
Source: City Book Review
Published: April 11, 2017
Sometimes school can be scary, and even embarrsing, but not today. Today is Birdie’s birthday, and everything will be perfect! Birdie’s panda-riffic cupcakes are beautiful, and there’s one for everyone. She will be the star of the class. But then…disaster! A trip and fall on the way to school means no more cupcakes! Who can save the day? Who can make the class smile again? This is a job for Birdie’s alter ego…the Amazing Crafty Cat!
After a quick transformation, Birdie is ready. She’s not afraid of sticky paws or paper cuts. She’s not afraid of anything, not even Anya, the class bully. It’s time to get crafting!
To be clear from the start: this book is not actually about a cat. Yeah, I was disappointed, too. Crafty Cat is the imaginary alter ego of our human protagonist Birdie. And while I have no idea why imagining herself as a cat of all things gives Birdie confidence or why she must envision herself as a cat whenever she does crafts to try to creatively problem solve, I grant that it works for her. The story centers on Birdie/Crafty Cat’s quest to save an in-school birthday celebration that keeps going horribly wrong.
I really liked that this book centers around a very normal and relatable activity for a lot of children: bringing cupcakes in to share with their class on their birthday. (Though Birdie’s class seems to have a rule that you can do any birthday activity of your choice; you don’t need to bring in snacks.) Things go wrong for Birdie throughout the course of the school day, and while I recognize some of these things as relatively “trivial” problems as a adult, I also know I would have been equally upset/mortified as Birdie is if some of these things had happened to me when I was younger. (Mom can’t drop everything she’s doing and bring something I forgot to school?! Crisis!) Chraise Mericle Harper really gets into Birdie’s mind and envisions a book that will appeal to children.
Birdie is also a very realistic character. She’s kind and creative and cares about her friends. But she also gets grumpy when things don’t go her way and has reasonable flaws. The side characters are also nicely outlined, considering how little page time they get in the story. I would have only liked to see more of Anya the bully, or at least more resolution of her role in the story.
The artwork is pastel and somewhat sparsely drawn. Personally I tend to be a fan of more lavish artwork, things I can spend a long time looking at and still find more detail to appreciate. However, the art here is clean and easy to follow. There are also a few whimsical touches in the background.
It took me awhile to get into the story and I think the structure could be stronger, but the plot is very relatable and Birdie is a realistic protagonist. There are also some fun panda crafts in the back of the book, so readers can be more like Birdie.