CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 40. . . .June 15, 2018
Crafty Cat and the Great Butterfly Battle.
Charise Mericle Harper.
New York, NY: First Second/Roaring Brook Press (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2018.
122 pp., hardcover, $18.50.
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
An ant scurries across the table…but this is
no ordinary tabletop. This is a crafting wonderland,
and two creative paws are hard at work.
They fold. They cut. They color. And now, for the
finishing touch. GLITTER!
Watch out, little ant. Glitter goes everywhere.
“Glitter makes everything better,” [says Crafty Cat].
Crafty Cat is back, having previously appeared in The Amazing Crafty Cat, and Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis. Crafty’s alter ego Birdie and friends are gearing up for a class play about metamorphosis. Of course, almost everyone want to be the butterfly, except friend Evan who is happy to play an ant after finding Birdie’s glitter-covered one.
Crafty has made a small pair of sparkly wings, but grumpy nemesis Anya, who has appeared in the earlier books, has a set of large wings strapped to her back, and an equally large attitude about taking the starring role. As if that weren’t enough, there are several other butterflies-in-waiting, and teacher Miss Domino has the job of diplomatically deciding what parts will go to whom.
After a few of the candidates have graciously agreed to play other insects, Miss Domino says:
All of the students eventually acquiesce to being something other than the butterfly, all except Birdie and Anya. Miss Domino’s solution is that they should share the part, with Birdie as the caterpillar (without which there can be no butterfly) and Anya as the full-fledged winged insect.
(Librarians and teachers take note: library research to come up with one ‘insect fact’ is also part of the preparation for the performance.)
“There are five butterflies left, and I want you all to know…
Every other insect will have the same amount of time onstage
as you. The butterfly is the subject of our play, but the butterfly
is not the star of the show. Now, let me tell you a few things
about the butterfly part...”
On the day, there is a fine array of insects: a mosquito, a moth, Evan as an ant and even a dung beetle (there’s always one...) eager to go on stage. It’s time for rehearsal, and Anya goes behind the curtain which has been painted like a cocoon to await her entrance. In her boredom, the dung beetle’s “poop ball”, a large bouncy exercise ball, proves to be too much of a distraction. Playing around on it is disastrous for Anya’s large wings. Who comes to the rescue? Birdie, herself, because there isn’t time to switch into the Crafty Cat disguise. It’s a “craft-mergency”! Straws, tape, tissue paper and lots of glitter do the job, and the show begins.
Afterwards, Evan asks Birdie:
Birdie passes around butterfly bookmarks to everyone too. Apparently you can’t keep a Crafty Cat down.
“So what was your favourite part?
Was it when Miss Domino clapped for you?”
“That was nice, but my favorite part was fixing Anya’s wings.
I didn’t know it before, but crafting beats clapping.”
Crafty Cat and the Great Butterfly Battle is a charming pictorial novel for primary children, one with speech balloons that encourage more reluctant readers. The idea of the superhero gets some gentle fun poked at it, but the message about following your passion and getting around difficult situations with ingenuity is clear.
Digitally-created illustrations are executed with simple figures strongly outlined in black and highlighted with soft greens and mauves. The back of the book again includes patterns for the crafts described during the story. Another appealing offering from Harper.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.
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