GRAPHIC NOVELS

Katie the Catsitter

Random. Jan. 2021. 224p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593306321; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781984895639.
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Gr 3-6–Katie Spera, 12, lives in an alternate New York City where Yelp-related superheroes abound, but all she cares about is attending summer camp with her best friend, Bethany. Her mother can’t afford it, so Katie tries job after job, all ending in comedic disaster, until she finds work caring for her neighbor’s 217 genius felines. Herding cats is tough, but Katie figures it out, leaving her time to take part in fun activities in the city with her mom, worry that she and Bethany are growing apart, and wonder if her friendly, glamorous new employer is secretly the supervillain Mousetress. This middle grade comic from the creator of “Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye” is light and fun. Reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s work, the art features a warm palette and lively, graceful linework that matches the upbeat characters and plot. While the story never gets too serious, there’s a lot going on—friendships form and fade, Katie turns her love of animals into a plan for action, and many of the adults around Katie are not who she expected them to be. The book’s final pages reveal that there will be a sequel; readers will also find a hilarious secret dossier on the 217 cats and brief bios that show how Venable and Yue used their passions as inspiration for the plot and design. Katie and her mother are white, Bethany is brown-skinned, and Katie’s neighbor is Black.
VERDICT A winsome mix of adventure, humor, and realistic middle grade problems, ideal for readers seeking the whimsy of Dav Pilkey’s “Dog Man” tempered with the reassuring tone of Raina Telgemeier’s work.

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