review of activity book Cat’s Cradle

Cat’s Cradle

by Anne Akers Johnson

Klutz (1993)
On Amazon.com: ASIN: B001E01RY8
On Amazon.ca ISBN-10: 1878257536, ISBN-13: 978-1878257536
Ages 6 and up

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cat’s Cradle is the perfect book for kids who enjoy crafts, quiet games by themselves, or mastering a new skill. Kids will delight in these fun string games, and spend hours of enjoyment with this book.

Cat’s Cradle gives kids a sense of accomplishment and success when they learn each new string game, which they can do on their own. The book is nicely set up, moving kids though the easiest string games first, such as Cup and Saucer, and Eiffel Tower, and gradually moving to the harder ones, such as Jacob’s Ladder. The popular string game Cat’s Cradle is also included, and is a two-person string game which is based on co-operation. The last two string games might be too hard for a six year old, but older children will enjoy mastering them. Five string games are included in total.

Cat’s Cradle includes a colorful string to play these string games–a string without a knot (secured by glue) and vivid colors, which adds to the fun. Since the string changes color over its length, it may also help make the string games easier to learn, since some of the strands are clearly different colors, making them easier to identify. Including the string is a nice touch, making this book truly interactive, instantly usable, and a great activity.

The numbered instructions are easy and clear to follow. The illustrations show each step of every string game with two hands and the string, making it easy to follow along. The author also made the illustrations much easier to follow, visually, by marking in red the next piece of string you’ll pick up. The accompanying text instructions explain the steeps in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.

Also included is a brief history of string games, encouraging the reader to find a quiet corner and practice making the figures before showing them off. Small illustrations are included that fit the name of the game (such as a cup, saucer, and warm drink in the Cup and Saucer game), and a colorful border, reminiscent of the included string, surrounds each page. The book itself is spiral-bound, making it easy to lie the book flat and read two pages at once–perfect for someone needing both hands to practice the string games.

Kids will enjoy learning these string games–likely spending hours by themselves, perfecting them, before they proudly show their friends and family. This book provides a great activity for kids–incorporating play, learning, and creativity–and is a fun way to keep kids occupied or away from TV and video games. My one improvement would be to add more string games into the book. Yet the book leaves the reader wanting more, which is a good thing!

Highly recommended.

About Cheryl Rainfield

I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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