Craft Roach

Hardie Grant. Feb. 2024. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781761213410.
PreS-Gr 3–A whimsical celebration of the joy of embracing one’s uniqueness, set in the world of cockroaches. Craft Roach has a fondness for glittery art and flamboyant costumes, in stark contrast to some risk-averse companions. The plot takes an unexpected turn when Craft Roach convinces its fellow bugs to dress up while the artist-owner of the house is away. The ensuing adventure leads to a delightful encounter with the owner who, instead of being repulsed, is captivated by the bugs’ visual appearance and creativity. As the bugs become willing models for the owner’s paintings, the story evolves into a tale of unexpected success and recognition. The overarching moral resonates strongly: the courage to be oneself is not only joyful, but also inherently rewarding. Gray-Barnett wonderfully depicts Craft Roach and cronies; another notable feature of the book is its interactive aspect, with back matter providing directions for creating craft roaches. Burke weaves a tale of nonconformity with a poetic touch that is only occasionally strained. Despite some initial interpretation hurdles (the book was originally published in Australia) for lesser-known terms like "paddle pop sticks” and “muesli bar boxes,” the provided directions are easily followed and make the book an engaging addition to any makerspace collection.
VERDICT This book is a delightful exploration of individuality, creativity, and the rewards of embracing one’s true self, offering an engaging story and an interactive craft activity for young readers.

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