how to make friends, according to cat rabbit’s new book
We sat down with the Melbourne textile artist to talk about the heartwarming story of Bear.
Everyone’s favourite crafty lady Cat Rabbit is back with a delightful new children’s book, How to Make Friends: A Bear’s Guide. It tells the tale of Bear – a loveable but timid lass who tries her best to earn the friendship of Lamb and Koala – and is filled with images of Cat’s charming plush creations.
Read our chinwag with Cat about the book below, and swing past our win page for the chance to score a copy for yourself – we’ve got five to give away.Hi Cat! Tell us about your new book, How to Make Friends: A Bear’s Guide. Hello! The book is about a bear who has plenty of stuffed friends, but no real ones. It follows her attempts to win friends by impressing them with her (non-existent) jogging skills, fancy outfits and cake. The book is illustrated with photographed scenes of my soft toy characters in a colourful felt world.
How long have you been working on the book, and how does it feel to finally be sharing it with the world? I worked on it during the lockdowns last year, and was so grateful to have a project throughout that difficult time. I took the last shot in December. Since then, time has been so soupy that it feels like it’s been a long time coming. It’s really great to be able to share it with the world and (nervously) see how it is received!
What made you want to tell Bear’s story? I can very much relate to Bear (many friends can attest that I have tried to win them over with cake). Bear is also quite introverted, and I was keen to tell the story of how that type of character might go about navigating friendships, while keeping the traits that make them unique.
What did the process of creating the characters and scenes in the book look like? I sketched out a storyboard which I workshopped with my editor, Nancy, and we figured out how the story would unfold on each page. I was very grateful for Nancy’s direction and vision for the book – bright and sparse with a focus on the characters themselves.
I spent some time working on the figures of Bear, Koala and Lamb and their subsequent outfits. I then photographed them in various backdrops until it all came together. My favourite thing to do with a project like this is to write a list of all the items that will appear in a spread and systematically make each one, ticking off the list as I go!While the story is aimed at tiny tots, what can we big kids learn from it? I think it has a strong message of celebrating all the funny little qualities that make up your own unique character and how we can best share these characteristics with others. While it’s important for kids to learn this, it’s a good reminder for adults, too! I also like that Bear realises certain things (like jogging) are simply not for her – there’s power in that realisation for people of all ages.
What’s your top tip for making friends? I think a good karaoke session will solidify any friendship.
Where can frankie readers find the book? Look for it in your local bookshop, or online at Berbay Books. Bear and friends will also be doing a small tour of bookshops in Melbourne – so keep your eyes peeled for that.