Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue

Katie the Catsitter By Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue. New York : Random House Children’s Books, 2021. First in a series

Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue

“Some heroes have capes…Katie has cats!”

217 of them, to be exact! Have you ever wondered what that many cats in one apartment would be like?  Twelve-year-old Katie gets to find out when she takes on a job catsitting for her upstairs neighbor, Madeline, to earn money to join her friends at summer camp.  She soon finds, however, that the real summer adventure may be closer to home when she begins to suspect that there’s more to Madeline than meets the eye.  Could cupcake-baking, late-night-working Madeline actually be notorious super villain The Mousetress?  Why do the cats play with actual lasers instead of laser pointers?  And why isn’t Katie’s best friend writing home much from camp?

As a cat lover, I found this graphic novel pawsitively delightful!  Madeline has 217 cats, each with their own personality and special skill, ranging from computer hacking and laser technology to fashion design and art curation.  My personal favorite is probably Moritz, whose specialty is Counterattacks, but the choice is quite difficult.  Though I doubt my own cat is a welding expert or jiujitsu master, who knows what cats get up to when we’re not around?

I found Katie to be a highly relatable character.  Even years after middle school, I remember the sting of being left out when your friends were all doing something together and you couldn’t take part.  Venable does an excellent job capturing the uncertainty that comes with changing friendship dynamics at any age. 

Katie experiences more uncertainty as she begins to see that not all heroes and villains are truly all evil or all good.  Her world is one in which superheroes and villains are an accepted part of society, to the point of caped crusaders competing for the highest Yelp review scores.  The Mousetress is reviled as the evilest of all – yet Katie realizes that her crimes ultimately result in good, such as freeing animals from a testing facility.  Katie finds herself inspired in turn to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves and begins to view the world in a less black-and-white way – important lessons for anyone, but especially inspiring at an age when you’re starting to find your unique voice.  

Venable’s storytelling and Yue’s illustration combine to form a delightful, relatable, and inspiring graphic novel geared toward middle grades but appropriate for older readers as well.  Yue’s illustrations add details that aren’t to be missed, such as each cat’s individuality and fun, small background details that readers may connect throughout the story.  Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile series, Shannon Hale’s Real Friends, and Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl are sure to enjoy Katie the Catsitter.

Joan Hedrick is a Circulation Assistant at Graham Public Library.  She can be reached at jhedrick@alamancelibraries.org.