CatNinja by Matthew Cody, illustrated by Yehudi Mercado

    CatNinja by Matthew Cody, illustrated by Yehudi Mercado, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 9781524861384, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Graphic novel

What did you like about the book?  First in a new series, Cat Ninja is colorful and adorable. Claude looks like a mild-mannered housecat, but his secret identity is Cat Ninja while his chief nemesis Master Hamster innocently lives in the same family as “Mr. Squeaks.” Leon and Marcie, their kid owners, are blithely oblivious to their pets’ adventures, which creates a lot of the humor. In the first episode, Cat Ninja foils Master Hamster and his band of gerbils’ evil plans to rob a bank after stealing patrons’ passwords (their pets’ names, of course!).  More villains and allies follow in subsequent chapters (a “cat” burglar, a robot dog, a disgruntled cockroach, etc.).  There’s even a flashback origin story so we get to learn how the kitty acquired his awesome crime-fighting skills.  A poignant side plot looks at Leon and Marcie’s sadness about their parents’ divorce, which lends a bit of substance to the story without dragging down the action. 

The art is suitably zippy with full color graphics and a very energetic diversity in the size and placement of panels. There’s definitely some homage being paid to manga, both in the look of the panels, the size of the book and the anime features on the kids (big heads and eyes, jet black hair).  The text balloons are easy to read and follow, with lots of cool, action-word art. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? No. Really sharp-looking volume that is sure to be in high demand.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Kids in grades 3 to 8 who are attracted to any one of these elements: comic books, ninjas, cute pets, or manga. The ending hints at a sequel, so prepare for them to get hooked.

Who should buy this book? Elementary, middle school and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it? Graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: September 4, 2020

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