Throughout March, I am taking part in ReFoReMo or Read for Research Month. In this picture book writing challenge, you read a wide variety of books and then read blog posts by various authors on how to use the mentor texts to improve your work.
One of the books for last week was Jacob Grant’s Cat Knit. Personally, as a knitter, I was immediately hooked. That said, I do suspect that Grant has been the recipient of an unwanted sweater or three. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it tells the story of Cat and his friendship with Girl. One day, Girl brings home a colorful new friend, Yarn. Cat quickly bonds with Yarn and their friendship grows. But then the unthinkable happens. Yarn becomes a snug, itchy sweater. Cat abandons his friend outside and only then notices just how awfully cold it is. Fortunately, Cat and Yarn are reunited although one suspects that there might be more knitting to come.
On the surface, it all looks pretty simple. You have a story about a cat, a girl and yarn. It is a book about knitting. And that’s true enough but if you go a bit deeper and you’ll find the theme.
Cat Knit is also a book about friendship and change. One friend changes and the other friend is initially resistant and just can’t deal with it. Fortunately, before it is too late, Cat realizes that “Warming up to something new takes time.”
Except for that last bit in parenthesis, Grant doesn’t say it. He implies it. He writes about it. He hides it in a story about a cat, a girl and yarn. Because he makes this part of the lesson covert, it is one of the themes of the book and teaches without preaching.
Don’t preach. We hear that bit of advice all the time. Fortunately we have Cat Knit and Jacob Grant to show us how to do it right.