Katie the Catsitter: Book 1

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Katie the Catsitter: Book 1 Book Poster Image
Funny, colorful graphic novel about tween superhero-to-be.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Stands out for positive role models.

Educational Value

Mentions how various kinds of animals have helped people throughout history. What cats say in a variety of languages such as Arabic, Hindi, German, Korean, and more. How New York City's carriage horses are mistreated.

Positive Messages

Sometimes things change, even friendships, and that's OK. Drifting apart from someone you've been friends with for a long time can be a little sad, but it can also bring you chances to explore new things and make new friends. Animals deserve to be treated with kindness. Sometimes it's OK to cause damage or commit a crime if it exposes another crime. Do things because they make you happy, not because they make you money.

Positive Role Models

Katie's a good role model for courage, perseverance, and teamwork. She takes on a superhero identity to rescue a friend and assigns team members tasks according to their strengths. She wants to earn money, so she figures out on her own how to get odd jobs from neighbors and what kind of work she's best at. Katie is White, but all other characters including friends, neighbors, and people in the background, have a diverse range of skin tones and hair and body types. The neighbor Katie catsits for is a positive representation of a superhero Black woman who's smart, tech savvy, and skilled in martial arts. Biographies at the end of the author and illustrator may inspire enthusiasm for animals, female superheroes, and adventure.

Violence

The mistreatment of animals is an important theme but abuse is not directly mentioned. Superhero antics expose a criminal who poaches endangered-animals and a dog-fighting ring. Mistreatment of carriage horses in New York City mentions horses kept in small boxes and working in extreme heat until they collapse. Pictures show some slightly scary wax figures of supervillain monsters. A villain gets bonked on the head and loses consciousness. Groups of cats are shown charging toward an attack. In a wax museum, characters joke about being murdered by evil wax monsters.

Sex
Language

Name calling includes "fart breath" and "nerd." Mention and pictures of "parachute underwear."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Katie the Catsitter is a superhero graphic novel set in modern-day New York City. Twelve-year-old Katie wants to earn money so she can go to summer camp, but when she starts catsitting for a neighbor she starts to suspect that the neighbor is much more than meets the eye. Mistreatment of animals is a theme, and crimes uncovered include poaching and a dog-fighting ring. Poor treatment of New York's carriage horses also mentions some details. Crimes committed by a superhero, like causing a factory explosion and theft, are justified since the crimes expose the poacher and the dog-fighting ring. A couple of pages show slightly scary images of supervillain monsters in a wax museum. A villain gets bonked on the head and knocked unconscious. Name calling includes "nerd" and "fartbreath," An illustration shows fantasy cats gambling at cards.

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What's the story?

KATIE THE CATSITTER is 12-year-old Katie, who lives in New York City. It's the last few days of school, and Katie's two best friends are super excited about going to Camp Bear Lake for the summer. Katie wants nothing more than to join them at camp, but she and her mom can't afford it. So Katie decides to work and earn the money she needs for just one week of camp. Better than nothing, right? Her neighbor Ms. Lang notices Katie's flyer and asks her to watch her cats while she works in the evenings. All 217 of them! As Katie gets to know the cats, she begins to suspect that Ms. Lang is one of New York's most notorious supervillains, The Mousetress. Can Katie find the truth behind the mask?

Is it any good?

This is a fun, funny, imaginative, and colorful graphic novel that reluctant readers will enjoy. Katie the Catsitter's superheroes and villains who inhabit modern-day New York City add a good dose of wit and humor, while the well-developed characters are easy to relate to and very grounded in the here and now. To say nothing of the cats! Readers will enjoy their antics and beyond-belief skill sets thanks to the drawings that highlight all the different personalities.

There are a few abrupt transitions that may make readers think they skipped a page and can be a bit confusing. But if you just keep going they clear up fairly quickly. Themes surrounding animal rights and changing friendships are presented without being too heavy handed. The story also starts to feel repetitive toward the middle, but it picks back up again fairly quickly. The ending satisfies while leaving the door open for more adventures, and readers will look forward the planned next installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Katie the Catsitter deals with animal rights. Why does Ms. Lang say it's important to be kind to every living thing? Do you agree with the ways she tries to help animals?

  • Is Katie a positive role model? What do you like or admire about her? Who's your favorite character?

  • Graphic novels are quite popular. What do we love about them? Do you like the illustrations in this one?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and superhero strories

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