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Graphic Novels for Cat Lovers

2020 is turning out to be a bumper year for cat stories of all kinds. Here’s a look at some of this year’s cat tales.

Catwad and Blurmp art by Jim Benton, courtesy of Scholastic

 


This may be the Year of the Rat according to the lunar calendar, but for publishers, it’s the year of the cat. Of course, cats are a perennial favorite; they are fun to draw, and it seems like everybody has one, so the material is always at hand. Nonetheless, 2020 is turning out to be a bumper year for cat stories of all kinds. Here’s a look at some of this year’s cat tales.

Brina the Cat: The Gang of the Feline Sun, by Giorgio Salati and Christian Cornia (Papercutz, January 2020)
Gr 3-5–Brina is a happy house cat until her owners, a young couple, take her on a vacation to the mountains and she gets a taste of freedom. A haughty outdoor cat tells Brina that real cats live off the land and as a house cat she belongs to her owners. She joins the stray cats’ Gang of the Feline Sun, and at first it’s exhilarating, but she soon sees the downside of gang life, especially with an overbearing leader. Meanwhile, Brina’s frantic owners search far and wide for her. The story is beautifully told, with lively art and quirky characters. A sequel, Brina the Cat: City Cat, is scheduled for June.

A Cat Story, by Ursula Murray Husted (HarperAlley, October 2020)
Gr 3-7–Two homeless cats, Cilla and Betto, set off on a journey to find a garden where all cats are welcome. There isn’t much information about this book, which won’t be pubished until next fall, but Husted’s fluid art style is well suited to drawing cats.

Cats Are People, Too: A Collection of Cat Cartoons to Curl Up With, by Dave Coverly (Square Fish, April 2020)
Gr 4-6–A collection of one-panel cat cartoons in the vein of The Far Side, this book bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor, Dogs Are People, Too. For this volume, Coverly brings in some other cartoonists, including Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange) and Jay Fosgitt (“Bodie Troll”), who contribute their own cat stories and drawings. The cartoons are divided up thematically, and each chapter begins with a short introduction. Although this is for all ages, some of the cartoons will be funnier to adults, as they rely on tropes such as two cats sitting in a bar; one cartoon is about power of attorney. Nonetheless, there’s plenty of slightly twisted humor for kids to enjoy.

Catwad: Me, Three! by Jim Benton (Scholastic, April 2020)
Gr 3-7–Catwad and Blurmp are a classic pair of opposites: Catwad is grouchy and misanthropic, Blurmp is wide-eyed and enthusiastic. It’s as if Garfield and Spongebob Squarepants got together, but with a bit more edge. Each of the short chapters in this slim book centers on a single situation that goes from absurd to even more absurd. Benton is great at drawing exaggerated facial expressions, and the humor is fresh and funny. There’s some cartoon violence and potty humor—but just a bit. This is the third volume of “Catwad” comics. The fourth is due out in October.

Chloe & Cartoon: When Chloe First Met Her Cat, Cartoon, by Greg Tessier, illus. by Amandine (Papercutz, February 2020)
Gr 5-8–Chloe, who has always wanted a cat, gets a kitten for Christmas, and this book is the story of how the family and the kitten, named Cartoon, learn to live together. It’s very standard comedy, with a goofy dad, coolly competent mom, and mischievous little brother rounding out the family, and it does have some good information for new cat owners. This story is a prequel to the “Chloe” graphic novels that Papercutz is publishing in its Charmz line, so there’s a bit of missing continuity (like why Chloe’s mother calls her “Misty”), but it’s basic enough that readers should be able to jump right in.

Read: 19 Webcomics to Keep Kids and Teens Engaged

Science Comics: Cats, by Andy Hirsch (First Second, August 2019)
Gr 4-8–This is a 2019 book, but it doesn’t seem right not to include it, because First Second’s “Science Comics” are perfect for any reader who wants to know more about a subject. Hirsch does a thorough job of introducing readers to the wonders of the cat world, from the largest cat to the smallest, as well as explaining their anatomical and behavioral peculiarities—including how domestic cats went from fierce predators of the wilderness to the super nappers and food-moochers they have become today.

Take It Away, Tommy!: A Breaking Cat News Adventure, by Georgia Dunn (Andrews McMeel, March 2020)
Gr 2 Up–Dunn’s Breaking Cat News webcomic—already published in two collected editions—is back. This time a ghost story and a crime caper are woven into the madcap antics of Elvis, Lupin, and Puck, who provide breathless TV news–style commentary on the goings-on in their home. A series of mysterious visitations lead The Woman and her friend to research the previous inhabitants, human and feline. The long-ago death of a cat may be a bit sad for younger readers, but it’s handled very gently. And Dunn follows it with the story of the Robber Mice Gang, who kidnap Puck’s stuffed mouse and hold it for ransom. Readers will have fun flipping to the book’s earlier pages, where the mice have snuck into several panels where they didn’t belong.

Warriors: A Shadow in Riverclan, by Erin Hunter and James L. Barry (HarperAlley, June 2020)
Gr 3-7–Back in 2007, Tokyopop and HarperCollins began copublishing manga-style graphic novels set in the world of Hunter’s “Warriors” novels. The series continued for a short while after Tokyopop’s North American shutdown in 2011, and in recent years, HarperCollins has been republishing the original black-and-white trilogies as full-color omnibus volumes. A Shadow in Riverclan is the first new graphic novel in this series, and like the others, it is hefty and in full color. Barry, who has been the artist since the beginning of the series, has a real knack for drawing cats. A Shadow in Riverclan is set just after the events of Warriors: The Prophecies Begin.

 

Author Image
Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, editor of the “Good Comics for Kids” blog, writes “Stellar Panels” SLJ’s graphic novels column. 

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