Katie the Catsitter: Best Friends For Never by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue.

Katie the Catsitter: Best Friends For Never by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue. Random House Children’s Books, 2022. 9780593375464

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover graphic novel

Genre: superhero fantasy

What did you like about the book?  It’s back to school for Katie, who has spent her summer helping her neighbor Madeline and skateboarding with a new group of friends while her best friend Beth was off at summer camp.  Something is off with Katie and Beth’s friendship, and that is not helped by the appearance of Beth’s new boyfriend Ben.  Resolving middle school friend drama is enough of a challenge, but things are complicated even further by the city’s superhero situation!  Katie knows that Madeline is really the Mousetress, a misunderstood superhero who has a corps of over 200 talented cats to do her bidding; Katie is in training to be the Mousetress’s sidekick, but lately Madeline is keeping to herself and Katie’s only responsibilities seem to be answering emails and keeping track of her social media presence.  It seems that the Mousetress has been committing dastardly deeds all over town, and a new superhero, Stainless Steel, is on the rise.   It’s up to Katie and the cats to clear the Mousestress’s good name and expose the real villain.  In the process she uncovers a lot of secrets about her friends and neighbors, and realizes her own greatest strengths. 

This is a fun follow-up to the first Katie the Catsitter; fans of that book will definitely be glad for the sequel.  The unique juxtaposition of a realistic middle school friendship story and an entertaining (and only mildly violent) superhero saga provides something for every reader.  The illustration style is reminiscent of many popular graphic novel artists, but the attention to detail in the backgrounds of many scenes is noteworthy.  Pop culture references and humorous superhero names and profiles appear in both text and pictures, and readers will love re-reading just to watch the behavior of the Mousetress’s cat brigade.  Katie and her mother are white, Madeline is Black, and the supporting cast is diverse throughout.  Top 10 hero rankings and most wanted villains are listed in the back, along with notes from author and illustrator and a quick cat drawing lesson.  

Anything you did not like about the book?  It will definitely be hard to follow without having read the first book.

To whom would you recommend this book? Upper elementary and middle school fans of graphic novel series by Telgemeier, Holm, Jamieson, et al. will love it! 

Who should buy this book? Public, elementary and middle school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Graphic novels

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: April 28, 2022

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