CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 11. . . .November 17, 2017
Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis.
Charise Mericle Harper.
New York, NY: First Second (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2017.
122 pp., hardcover, $13.99.
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Johanna Beaumont.
There is a spot on the world…don't worry. It's a good spot. A spot where amazing things are happening, and it's right behind this door. Let's look. See these pencils? They are not ordinary colored pencils. See this glue stick? It is not a regular glue stick. These are tools of the Amazing Crafty Cat.
Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis begins as readers meet Crafty Cat, a darling creative kitty working in her special room. She adores her many tools for making very special crafts. It's time for Craft Camp, and readers discover that Crafty Cat is actually Birdie's alter ego that helps her cope in all kinds of situations. And it is completely unnoticeable by others when Birdie transforms into Crafty Cat. Birdie and her best friend Even set off for their craft day camp at their school. These second graders are in for a day of twists, turns and eventually tests of their friendship. Crafty Cat often comes to Birdie's rescue to help solve her problems, along with occasional advice from another friend, Cloudy.
Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis is Charise Mericle Harper's next installment of her graphic novel trilogy, and it does not disappoint. It is similar to her previous graphic novels as it is also a sweet, playful and endearing read. She has thought of every detail in making this novel an interactive experience. Even the dodgeball and flowers have lines of text! The book is complete with "victory dances" gliding across the page, playful diagrams, occasional changes of font to add emphasis and highly believable second grade conversation. The majority of the novel is written in the same straightforward, almost appearing handwritten, choice of font. The conclusion brings several additional pages of detailed directions to complete Birdie's crafts from her camp. The directions follow the same easy-to-read and understandable theme maintained throughout the novel.
The digital artwork sketched on an iPad Pro and coloured in Photoshop is visually appealing but refreshingly simple. The artwork supports the novel and will greatly aid in overall comprehension of the text. Few colours are used throughout with absolutely no bold hues within the novel. The choice to include only subtle colours perfectly matches the overarching theme of calmly dealing with tricky emotions. Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis carries several messages especially important to elementary readers, such as dealing with bullying, overcoming disappointment, developing confidence, friendship and self-regulation. Children and adults will not only smile but also laugh out loud as they experience this charming story unfold. Harper has done it again in creating an engaging, ridiculously fun read for children to enjoy time and time again.
Johanna Beaumont is a Kindergarten teacher at Spruceland Traditional Elementary School in Prince George, BC. She is also currently studying for a Masters of Special Education at UNBC.
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University of Manitoba
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