Saturday, October 10, 2020

Cartoon Saturday- Cats!

Cody, Matthew and Mercado, Yehudi. Cat Ninja (Cat Ninja #1)
October 13th 2020 by Andrews McMeel Publishing (Epic! Originals)
Copy provided by the publisher

Mild mannered house cat Claude has a secret identity as Cat Ninja that he must hide from his humans, Leon and Marcie. Claude had been raised by a grandmotherly ninja before coming to live with them, and his nemesis, Master Hamster (whose domesticated name is Mr. Squeaks), was created in a lab accident by Doctor Von Malice. The hamster and his Gerbil Gang are constantly trying to get Cat Ninja, but constantly fail. This graphic novel is set up rather like one of the comic books my brother and I got as a treat on family vacations, with several short chapters with different adventures, with a bonus quiz at the end. Claude goes with the humans to a ski resort when their father, who is divorced from their mother, tries to impress them by taking them on vacation and also buying a dog, Adonis, for them.  Adonis is also around when a giant robot menaces the city and Cat Ninja must save the day, and is weaponized by Doctor Von Malice in The Case of the Furry Roach. Master Hamster has a change of heart when the children are endangered. When Claude has to fight a seasoned Cat Burglar, will he be able to keep the chidlren safe? Several other stories are available on the web site (, so it's possible that more will come out in print format. 
Strengths: This is a great story that straddles the Pilkey Line brilliantly and should appeal to elementary students as well as middle school ones, especially those who like super hero tales. I enjoyed the brief back story about Cat Ninja, and Doctor Von Malice is a good villain for readers who aren't quite ready for villains who also have a good side. Leon and Marcie's family situation was my favorite part, with their parents sharing custody, and their mother wanting to move out of the city because of all of the threats. Even younger readers will realize that moving would mean that Cat Ninja would find it harder to fight crime. The text size is big enough to read comfortably, and there is not too much narration; it's a good balance, and the pictures support the story well. This is a great book for elementary students if you can stand the resultant Cat Ninja role playing. 
Weaknesses: Personally, I'm not a fan of cats or graphic novels, so I fear I don't do this one justice. This had a strong Dog Man vibe and should appeal to readers who DO like cats and Graphic Novels!
What I really think: My emerging readers and graphic novel fans will love this one, so I am investigating the rest of the series as well. 

Dunn, Georgia. Elvis Puffs Out
October 6th 2020 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

Breaking Cat News is a comic strip available through GoComics; it's not in the Columbus Dispatch, but must be in other newspapers. I read Take it Away, Tommy previously, but it's not necessary to read these in order. 

Cats Lupin, Elvis and Puck continue their adventures, which frequently involve their newscast. The family with whom they live includes a mother, father, and two small children, who are frequently mentioned in the reporting. There is also a kitten who is found out in the snow and rescued; Beatrix is a real go-getter and interns successfully with the news before getting a permanent position as a book store cat. The cats find hairbrushes and carpet that they enjoy, help the children with birthday parties and potty training, and generally "help out" their family. 

The illustrations are brightly colored, and my readers who enjoy comic books like Weber and Stephens's Oh, Brother! Brat Attack, Henry's Wallace the Brave or Pastis' Pearls Before Swine will enjoy this look into the Evil That Cats Do. The soulless eyes still bother me a bit, but again, cats. My daughter has two, and she tells me that in order to wake her up in the mornings, one will gnaw on the top of her head while the other wails loudly in her ear. She interprets this as "We want you to wake up so we will massage you and sing to you", so the Breaking Cat News team's antics feel accurate!

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