March 6, 2017
by Jacob Grant
Feiwel and Friends
“Cat and Girl has always been good friends.”
“One day, Girl brought home a colorful new guest.
His name was yarn.”
So opens Cat Knit. The text may seem simple but the story is many-layered. On the surface it is a story about a very expressive cat who has scads of fun playing with the ball of yarn that Girl brings home. At least fun is had until she knits yarn into a clingy, itchy sweater.
That’s the surface interpretation. Then there is the underlying story about change and perhaps even growth. From the outset Cat is unhappy about the changes in Yarn. Yarn is all wrong and Cat pulls off the new sweater only then realizing just how cold the snow is. He grudgingly admits that “warming up” to something new takes time.
All of this comes through the story without Grant preaching about the benefits of change and growth and giving new things a chance. Instead, it all comes through organically.
Grant initially drew the illustrations with charcoal and crayon before coloring them digitally. Like the text, the illustrations are deceptively simple. They look cartoony but both Cat’s facial features and gestures are wonderfully expressive and communicate a world of emotion.
Because the text is so brief, this would make an excellent read aloud. That said, young boys who aren’t familiar with knitting men may not be willing to give the story a chance. Yes, I see that as a problem but not necessarily one that you can address in the middle of story time.
Fortunately the book would also be top-notch for one-on-one reading or early reading. Finding good books for new readers can be tough and this story is well-developed without vocabulary that feels like it has been kept too simple.
Share this with the young reader in your life and be ready for a varied and far-ranging discussion that may encompass change and growth as well as unwanted and unwelcome gifts.