GRAPHIC NOVELS

The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. May 2022. 320p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780063084087.
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Gr 3-5–When moths, the ocean, and a wereduck—all things impacted by the moon—start exhibiting strange behaviors, a scientist working at an observatory notices something incredible: the moon is being eaten by intergalactic rats! When officials at the military headquarters in the Hexagon learn they only have three days to stop the rats or else the moon will be lost altogether, they prepare to send in Project 47: a cat enhanced with microchips in its brain, a cybernetic biotech space suit, and a penchant for pizza. Running gags that manage to stay fresh, clever panel-crossings, and fourth wall-breaking book references are all part of the charming humor of this online experience turned graphic novel. The art is simple but sophisticated, with a rough chalk texture giving it a childlike appearance. The dominant colors of black and cornflower blue are used to represent outer space, but other colors are present—notably warm reds, yellows, and oranges. Many of the characters are anthropomorphic animals; protagonist First Cat never speaks beyond saying “Meow,” but meaning is mostly explained via context. Of the humans, there is a mixture of white and BIPOC representation; the General and the scientist appear to be Black. Footnotes are left for readers on where to find music from the story online.
VERDICT Readers looking for the outer space high jinks and gentle humor of Brockington’s Catstronauts and the imaginative and fantastical worldbuilding of Andrews’s This Was Our Pact need look no further than this laugh-out-loud tale of the first cat in space.

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