The Gang of the Feline Sun

Papercutz. (Brina the Cat: Bk. 1). Jan. 2020. 88p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781545804254.
Gr 3-5–A young city cat’s instincts are tested when she escapes from her humans in this graphic import from Italy. Brina has everything she needs: a warm bed, good food, and just a touch of freedom. When she and her owners, Margret and Sam, take a vacation to the mountains, a feral cat, the maniacal Vespucci, mocks Brina’s safe, comfortable life and convinces her to join his local gang. As the felines engage in a string of petty burglaries while looking for food, Brina endures existential crises, torn between returning to Margret and Sam and being independent. Cornia’s energetic artwork has the feel of an animated film, and big-eyed, intrepid Brina is an adorable protagonist. However, the narrative isn’t as strong as the visuals. Some elements may have been lost in translation (Vespucci leads the cats through the woods to their “tatami room”), and a few scenes may overwhelm sensitive readers—in a flashback, a crying Vespucci is taken from his mother, thrust into a sack, and flung into a river; clawing his way out, he loses an eye. A clunky, overwritten climax may take readers out of the story: “Brina’s mind is no longer a clear blue sky. The stars are hiding. The only lights that shine in her memories are her mother’s eyes.”
VERDICT There are plenty of more compelling graphic novels for kitty enthusiasts. Skip this one in favor of Drew Brockington’s “CatStronauts,” Ashley Spires’s “Binky the Space Cat,” or Georgia Dunn’s “Breaking Cat News.”

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