Thursday, January 28, 2021

Katie the Catsitter, King and Kayla

Venable, Colleen A.F. and Yue, Stephanie (illus.) Katie the Catsitter
January 5th 2021 by Random House
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Katie lives in an apartment building with her mother, who frequently has to work. In order to earn money to join her friend at an expensive summer camp, Katie puts up a flyer advertising her services for many kinds of jobs-- babysitting, plant sitting, carrying groceries, etc. She doesn't have much luck with the jobs, some of which end more disastrously than others. When Ms. Lang sees her interacting with the store cat at a convenience store Katie frequents, she hires Katie to cat sit in the evening until midnight. The catch-- there are over 200 cats. They are all super interested in a variety of things but wreak havoc every night, managing to repair all of the damage to the apartment before Ms. Lang returns home at the stroke of midnight, even if it involves repeatedly stealing couches belonging to the building busy body. The New York City in which Katie lives has a variety of super heroes, including the confusing Owl Guy, but also Mousetress, who is a supervillain. As she spends more time with the cats in Ms. Lang's apartment, Katie starts to suspect that her employer is, in fact, Mousetress. When Mousetress is imprisoned, can Katie find out the real reason behind her arrest, and save the day with the help of the cats?
Strengths: While fantasy graphic novels don't always do well in my library, this book has two things that make it very appealing: colorful illustrations of the Telgemeier/Jamieson school, and CATS. I am always a fan of books that involve tweens trying to make money or follow interests, so I enjoyed watching Katie try her hand at some money making endeavors. I loved that she watched the cats in the evening; I had a babysitting job in the 6th grade that went from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. because the mother was a nurse. The super hero story is very appealing as well, and the mystery about who was good and who was evil will appeal to tweens. Including friend drama always works well in middle grade books. 
Weaknesses: Because there are a lot of DC and Marvel comic book characters and I am not too well versed in these, I'm never sure if books are based on these characters or if they are just completely new stories. Primer was a good example of a book I wasn't sure about, although Squirrel Girl, against all odds, is a Marvel character. 
What I really think: I will purchase this one, and it looks to be a series. 

Butler, Dori Hillestad and Meyers, Nancy (illustrations)
King & Kayla and the Case of the Gold Ring (King & Kayla #7) 
February 1st 2021 by Peachtree Publishing Company
ARC provided by the publisher

It's winter, and Kayla and her friends Mason and Asia are having lots of fun playing in the snow in the yard. King is enjoying it as well, since snow is his FAVORITE thing. Before long, the children get cold and retreat inside for cocoa and videos, which is okay with King, because marshmallows are his favorite food. When Asia realizes that a ring her grandmother has given her has gone missing, Kayla and her friends start their methodical investigation into what might have happened to the ring. They make a list of places to search, and King is glad to help out. It is just too bad that Kayla doesn't always understand his barks, because he is the one who finds the ring and has to bring it to everyone's attention!

Books involving antics in the snow are always popular with young readers, who will laugh at King's enthusiasm for just about everything. This also shows good investigative methods, even if King's insistence that a crow might have the ring derails sensible options a bit. Meyer's illustrations are brightly colored and given plenty of white space on the page, with large, clear text. This makes the books a lot easier and faster paced for young readers who are eager to turn pages. 

Readers who enjoyed beginning reader books like Rissi's Anna Banana books, Draper's Sassy series, Faruqi's Meet Yasmin!, McDonald's Judy Moody, or Ahn's Pug Pals will be glad to investigate yet another every day mystery with Kayla and her adorable dog. 

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