Of all the things we treasure in our youth, few things move forward with us. I was surprised recently to discover my three-year old granddaughter cuddling the panda in a red and black striped shirt, affectionately called “Toon” by my son, now 37. He loved Toon when he was about her age and took it most places. It was his favorite plush toy for years. But who knew he kept it? And that it is now in the adoring arms of his daughter?
I had a “cowboy” blanket when I was very young that I loved. It moved from Texas to Washington with me when I was about 6. I had it for a long time but have no idea what eventually happened to it. I remember it had grown a number of large holes in it and its functionality as a blanket was probably greatly diminished. At some point it just disappeared, or was donated with other things I’d outgrown. Or maybe, considering the shape it was in, it was thrown out. I prefer to think the former.
Cole is the protagonist in Leanne Hatch’s beautiful debut picture book, Unraveled. He is gifted a blanket knitted by his Mama while anticipating his arrival in this world. When he does arrive, and is given the blanket, the bond is instant.
He is wrapped and cuddled in the soft yarn. He is swaddled in the blanket to sleep. He plays on the blanket, with the blanket, under the blanket—everywhere he goes, the blanket goes. Inseparable.
Like most strongly loved things, wear and tear is bound to happen. Cole’s blanket, so hugely loved and such a big part of his life, was unraveling. Even as it begin to resemble a blanket less and less, he still tried to do all the things with it he had done in the past.
Finally, when the blanket was no more than a tangle of yarn, Cole makes a pragmatic decision that it was time to let it go.
Or was it?
Hatch’s illustrations are gorgeous. The characters, Cole, his mother and an ever present cat, are sweet and emotive. You never have difficulty knowing exactly how they are feeling, and with a pretty good idea what they are thinking.
The spread when Cole makes the decision to give up his blanket, he is at the dinner table eyeing the tangle of yarn while eating a tangle of spaghetti. An image that, even in the seriousness of the moment, makes me smile.
The textures and the beautiful line qualities make me want to touch each page. Hatch’s limited palette is warm. The scribbles and brush strokes are soft. Soft and warm…like a comfy hand-knit blanket. I know first-hand that these illustrations were made on her iPad and I am so jealous! Time to get busy learning mine!
The art and the story of Unraveled will make you feel like cozying up under something warm, reading it one more time, and exploring all the quiet and beautiful detail in the illustrations.
(This lovely book received a star from Booklist and truly wonderful reviews from just about everywhere else.)