Another school holiday review, this book was also courtesy of the author. With an eye-catching front cover of a little boy knitting a rainbow scarf, I knew I had to check it out.
“Made by Raffi” by Craig Pomranz is a picture book for primary school aged kids. This story is about an introverted and creative young boy called Raffi who develops a passion for knitting and making clothes. After some teasing at school and some concerns about his identity, Raffi perseveres with his interests and ultimately is accepted and acknowledged for his talents.
This is a really important book for a number of reasons. I think as a society we have come a really long way in terms of accepting and even praising girls who are “tomboys” and show interest in traditionally masculine activities, but there is still a long way to go in equally accepting boys who show interest in traditionally feminine activities. Gender in a lot of ways is still a hierarchy, and masculine is often considered “better” than feminine. I’ve heard lots of stories of men who gave up activities that they had enjoyed as kids such as ballet because it was too “girly” and they were teased by peers or told not to by parents. In addition to celebrating diversity (this book has a really great diverse cast of characters), this book is really critical in showing that your interests don’t define you. Enjoying knitting isn’t necessarily indicative of your sexuality or gender identity. People – and in particular children – simply are who they are, they like what they like, and that’s OK.
With bright illustrations and a great message, I think this would make a great summer craft story for primary school children, or a bedtime story when kids are back in school.