Saturday, June 25, 2022

Cartoon Saturday- The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, Batpig

Harrell, Rob. Batpig: Too Pig To Fail (Batpig #2)
June 28th 2022 by Dial Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Having saved the world (or at least his neighborhood) in Batpig: When Pigs Fly (Batpig #1), Gary and his friends Brooklyn and Carl are back. This time, they are stuck in a math class about fractions that never ends. It turns out that the clock tower of the school building was hit by lightning, and the mild mannered custodian (who has helped Gary find his retainer a whole bunch of times) has turned into Time Guy, and is slowing down time in order to punish students for not being appreciative enough. Gary realizes that the process could be reversed if everyone is having fun, so laboriously brings in  everyone's favorite activities. The idea works, and everyone as a new appreciation for the custodian. There are additional stories centering around two space aliens who unleash a rain of stinky socks on the world, and after reading Carl's worst fears, send a bumblebee kitten to terrorize the neighborhood. This happens when Gary  and his friends are watching their favorite superhero film a movie, and when Gary needs to save the day, he must borrow his idol's costume. When the bumblekitten threatens the pet shop where Carl has a new acquarium on layaway with Ms. Fishbol, he overcomes his fear to try to save one of his favorite people. As always, Gary and his friends do their  best to fight evil, no matter how strange it is.
Strengths: Gary and his friends are such a fun group. They support each other (Gary and Brooklyn are contributing secretly to Carl's aquarium), but also give each other a hard time (they make fun of his attitude toward being Batpig and wearing his uniform all the time). There are lots of fun details about school that ring absolutely true, and I loved that the kids in class all supported and thanked the hard working custodian. The aliens are goofy, but set up the scene for Batpig to save the day nicely. The illustrations are colorful and fun. This graphic novel is the closest thing I've seen to old style comic books like Richie Rich. Quite delightful
Weaknesses: Batpig's powers could be used for better things, but then, so could Dog Man's. It's enough for him just to save his neighborhood.
What I Really Think: Definitely purchasing, and my students will be glad to see the continuation of Gary's story. (If this sounds lukewarm, it's because I'm typing the review with one hand after installation of my RoboGrip on the first day of summer vacation, and it's harder than I thought it would be!)

Barnett, Mac and Harris, Shawn. The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza
May 10th 2022 by Katherine Tegen Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Scientists discover that rats are eating the moon, and unveil their secret weapon to stop it; a cat enhanced with microchips and a space suit with cybernetic biotechnology! The cat is sent to the moon on a space ship where there is a stowaway, Loz 400, who was created by scientists to trim toenails but seeks more purpose. The ship's computer is jealous, but Cat and Loz develop a plan to save the moon. They meet the Queen of the Moon who has a key to the Dark Side, where the rats are. It's a treacherous journey across the moon, and they seek the help of the Man in the Moon so that they can travel under the surface. He feels that Cat is destined to sit in the moon chair and save the day, so allows them safe passage. There journey is filled with all manner of quirky characters, such as a whale who falls in love with Loz's singing, meeting the pirate Captain Babybeard in the Sea of Tranquility, monsters in the shape of hands who steal the Moon Queen's key, and other characters who for some reason want to thwart the Cat as he tries to save the moon from the rats. Will he succeed? And will he ever get a decent slice of pizza?

Barnett does a great job with middle grade humor in The Terrible Two and Mac B.: Spy Kid, and The First Cat in Space has a lot of goofy moments. My favorite was when Cat and his crew found out that Babybeard was a pirate, and they wanted no part of his evil exploits, especially when he prepares to attach a boat full of wide-eyed bunnies who are "just on our way to snuggle with lonely grandmas"! Readers who are familiar with books that embrace the traditional fantasy hero's journey will chuckle at how Cat's journey mirrors those tropes while also being tremendously ridiculous. 

Harris' rough drawings, heavy on penciled or charcoaled outlines, lend a feeling of otherworldliness and also humor. Cat looks rather inscrutable, and the Moon Queen looks a bit like a doll. Loz and the ship's computer both get bigger roles than one would imagine. The rats look properly evil, for creatures who are determined to eat the moon. 

Despite the longer format of this book, I think that readers who enjoy Blabey's Bad Guys or Eaton's Flying Beaver Brothers will enjoy this one, and it is also closer to Pilkey's work than a lot of graphic novels I have seen; both have moments of being the James Joyce of the kidlit world in their use of stream of consciousness. Brockington's Catstronauts: Mission Moon is another good read alike for kids who can't get enough of goofy graphic novels.

I did have some questions. Why couldn't Cat have landed on the correct side of the moon? Wouldn't his space ship have come with a rover that would have expedited travel?

Definitely thought of this meme, that author Ryan Gebhart (There Will Be Bears) posted on Twitter. This pretty much sums up my feelings about LOTR. Fine, but takes waaay too long when they keep going up the hill. JUST GET THERE. So, yes, felt a little of that.

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