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THE AMAZING CRAFTY CAT by Charise Mericle Harper


by Charise Mericle Harper ; illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: April 11th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-62672-486-0
Publisher: First Second

When disaster derails Birdie’s birthday plans, the little girl’s alter ego, Crafty Cat, saves the day.

Birdie trips on the way to school, smashing her birthday cupcakes all over her dress. Now she’s a mess and she has nothing to share with her classmates. What to do? Quickly changing into Crafty Cat, she turns the mess on her dress into a sugary map of North America before turning back into Birdie. But she still doesn’t have anything to share. Birdie’s grandfather shows up with un-cupcakelike replacements: black olives and cottage cheese. When all seems bleak, Birdie’s alter ego comes up with the perfect idea: a birthday craft. While Birdie plans her craft, readers see class bully Anya eating way too many olives. It’s hard to feel too much glee at her comeuppance, because Anya has not really done anything particularly despicable outside of Birdie’s imagination in the first 97 pages and therefore is not fundamentally unlikable. Harper’s art is reliably enjoyable to peruse—when Birdie is daydreaming, Harper uses green curved lines as the borders, while reality is depicted in stark black outlines. But this cannot save the story’s pacing and credibility problems; there are too many pages between moments of action, and missing a birthday treat just doesn’t seem calamitous, even for these evidently rather sheltered white children.

Even craft-happy readers will wish for a believable plot, especially one where the good guys and bad guys are more dramatically constructed. (Graphic fiction. 7-10)