The Picture Book Buzz

Unraveled - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

This week, I found a wonderful debut picture book that deals with growing up and letting go. Or perhaps growing up and discovering ways to remain connected to things and people we love. It is full of heart and will touch both kids and parents..



Unraveled


Author/illustrator: Leanne Hatch


Publisher: Holiday House (2021)


Ages: 3-6


Fiction


Themes:

Growing up, loss, and holding on to memories.


Synopsis:

A baby blanket is a very special gift, but what happens when you grow up and it comes undone? Is it time to let go, or to make something new?


While Cole's mama waits for his arrival, she knits him a baby blanket. After he is born, the bond between baby and blanket is instant. So much so that as Cole grows older, the two are inseparable, until the day he notices the blanket is slowly coming unraveled.


Cole tries playing with it the way he always had but it doesn't work and he decides to let go of what is now a bundle of yarn. But Mama isn't quite ready to let go and knits the yarn into something new—a sweater—delighting Cole. The bond is once again instant.


Leanne Hatch brings this story of growing up and taking things with us in new ways to life with her warm text and richly textured art.


Opening Lines:

The bond was instant.


What I LOVED about this book:

This simple seeming opening line, "The bond was instant," contains the heart of the story and the accompanying illustration shows the four things most important in Cole's life - Mama, blanket, cat, and frog. All of which play a huge role in this story. Though initially, it appears the bond is with the blanket, as "Cole adored the softness of the yarn and the feel of the textured edges."

Text and Image © Leanne Hatch, 2021.


We watch, as the blanket, cat, and frog play a big role through Cole's childhood. This series of panels reminded me a bit of the scenes in one of my favorite older picture books - Kevin Henkes' Owen. Another little boy with an adored blanket.

Text and Image © Leanne Hatch, 2021.


But as with many things, Cole discovers that time has not been kind to his blanket and it eventually unravels into "a pile of tangled yarn." I love the next series of illustrations (which highlight Leanne Hatch's creative ingenuity), as Cole attempts, with increasing frustration, to continue to use his "blanket." They create a myriad of emotions from empathetic sadness, to perhaps a few chuckles, especially with the string "ghost" or cape attempts. By the way, be sure to take a moment to notice the expressive and interactive, if silent, role of the cat throughout the book!

Text and Image © Leanne Hatch, 2021.


So, what's a kid to do? Pile the yarn somewhere safe or maybe throw it away? Bringing the story into a perfect

circle, while perhaps bending the rules a bit, Cole and Mama arrive a different solutions. But ultimately one that is poignant, sigh inducing, and genuine. One that ends as it began, with all the subtle layers of meaning - "The bond was instant."


The subtly colored, digital and pencil illustrations succeed in capturing various textures, especially in the unique end pages - with their hand-knit, variable, cabled yarn design. This is a perfect read for a bedtime snuggle. A tender tale of growing up and dealing with changes. As well as a poignant story for parents about to send their kids (of any age) off to school.


Resources:

- can you think of a way to reuse or change things you love. Ones that you've outgrown or have broken?

For instance, using special t-shirts you've outgrown or that have holes, you could make a quilt or make a no-sew tote bag (https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/recycle-reuse-repurpose-thinning-swim-t-shirt-collection/).

Or use portions to make something else, like a friendship bracelet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5knLsLjlaE&ab_channel=CraftFactory)

- draw a picture or write a story about a special item or toy that you've outgrown, lost, or which broke. What helped you deal with it? Did you talk with anyone?

- do you have a favorite blanket or stuffed friend you sleep or have adventures with? Write a story or draw a picture of one of these adventures.


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Leanne Hatch (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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