Saturday, May 11, 2019

Two Cats and a Baby, The Good Egg

Watson, Tom. Two Cats and a Baby (#4)
September 25th 2018 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Life is good for Stick Cat and Edith now that their owners Goose and Tiffany have married. Stick Cat enjoys the gourmet meals, and puts up with Edith's eccentricities. Now that there is a small human around, though, Edith is not happy. It takes attention away from the big humans, it cries, and it isn't going away. Stick Cat is okay with it; he is a very easy going, philosophical cat. When Grandma Cobb comes to visit, Edith is excited, since she loves to play with Grandma's long necklace and get attention. Of course, the stupid baby is much more interesting, and Edith feels slighted. When Grandma accidentally gets locked in the bathroom, though, both cats understand how important it is to get her out. The baby is safe, and they try to keep her warm and happy, but Grandma is very upset. Highjinks ensue, and the cats try to get Grandma out of the bathroom and back to her babysitting duties.

Stick Cat is about the only cat I would trust not to kill me (I have to admit I am more of a Stick Dog fan), and his long suffering endurance of Edith is always amusing. He saves the day, of course, and must deal with Edith and the baby as best he can.

Grandma Cobb was delightful, and there aren't many depictions of grandparents babysitting in middle grade, so it's something nice to see. The pictures, as always, are simple but amusing, and Grandma's floppy hat and amazing necklace help to save the day as well.

Readers who like their notebook novels with a large side of animals will love Stick Cat. Hand this to fans of Ahn's Pug Pals, Surovec's My Pet Human, Proimos's  Apocalypse Bow Wow and of course, Falatko's Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School.


I like to think that I understand middle grade literature, and, more importantly, what middle grade readers want to read. Sports books or all kinds, radioactive pocket pets, villainous principals, and cheesy romances are all things that I can appreciate from an eleven year old perspective. I have even managed to write thoughtful and critical reviews of about a dozen Geronimo Stilton books for Young Adult Books Central, and since they have the same exact plot and character features every single time, this is no mean feat. ( I had two students who moved to our school from Gujarat, India and thought Geronimo was the best thing ever, and this was a way to obtain those books for them!)

Sometimes, though, I just don't get it. Bogbrush the Barbarian (2010)? I wrote a review so mean that I couldn't even post it. Other people liked the book, but I just didn't understand. I think this is true for the following book. It's the mixture of twee (Really? I had to read the phrase "Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types" more than once?), underexplained on-trend political correctness (I understand that Barney prefers nonbinary pronouns, but I'm not sure if my 6th graders would), and just plain odd (see book description below) that made it hard for me to enjoy this.

But that's just me. Other people seem to enjoy these books, especially the graphic novel series on which the novels are apparently based. See? Unfamiliarity with the entire series does not help in this case. So read this one for yourself and decide if it is something that would be a good fit for you.

Tamaki, Mariko and Allen, Brooklyn. The Good Egg (Lumberjanes #3)
October 30th 2018 by Harry N. Abrams
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Summer is wearing on for the Lumberjanes; cabin cleaning must be done, and there is a slight feeling of ennui before the exciting appearance of  Miss Annabelle Panache, who is going to help the campers put on plays, all based on classic fairy tales with a scouting twist! This is all very fun, but Ripley has other concerns. Previously, she had found a nest with very large golden eggs which also included a basketball sized egg to which she took a liking. Calling it "Eggie" and checking on it frequently, Ripley is fond of the egg, but when the other eggs hatch and it doesn't, Ripley puts it in another nest. Unfortunately, the egg is stolen out of that nest, and Ripley hears Rosie the counselor and Bearwoman (a shape shifter who inhabits the woods near the camp) talking about Eggie being taken by the Order of the Golden Egg. Determined to find her friend, Ripley tries her best, but sinks into despondency. Meanwhile, work proceeds on the various plays. Eventually, Ripley and Barney decide to go in search of Eggie, even if it means a run in with the Order. Given the nature of Eggie, will they be able to find it before it is too late?

This is a continuation of both a graphic novel series and two other illustrated novels, and familiarity with these will help. There are a fairly large number of characters, and while they have distinct characteristics, not all of them make large appearances in this volume. Jen, who breaks into nervous laughter at the slightest provocation, Ripley, and Rosie and the Bearwoman are the focus of this volume.

The illustrations are appealing, although since they are rendered only in shades of red, Ripley's blue hair isn't well represented! They have a manga-like feel and add to the descriptions of the diverse, powerful scouts. They are goofy when they need to be (e.g. Miss Panache)

The camp itself is set in a fantasy world where griffins, shape shifters and other mythical creatures often appear without much explanation. Readers who enjoyed the graphic novels or books like Stevenson's Nimona, Brooks' Sanity and Tallulah or Wang's The Prince and the Dressmaker will find this a pleasant way to while away some reading time.

1 comment:

  1. I had ONE teen who liked the Lumberjanes comics. They always frustrated me because I felt like there was a whole backstory.... somewhere that I didn't know, but that you're supposed to magically infer? I've heard a lot of love for them from adults, but other than this one kid I've never gotten anyone interested in reading them.