Best Friends for Never

Random. (Katie the Catsitter: Bk. 2). Jan. 2022. 224p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593375464.
Gr 3-7–Katie, who pet-sits for her neighbor Madeline (who fights crime as the superhero Mousetress), can overcome anything with the help of Madeline’s army of ingenious cats, or so it seems. Madeline seems more interested in online activism and baking shows, even with a Moustress impersonator on the loose. Katie’s friend Beth is back from summer camp, but the two of them don’t quite gel, unlike Katie’s “Wheel-Las” skateboarding crew. To keep Katie safe and help her build responsibility, her mom imposes rules. Katie is constantly challenged to leave her comfort zone toward personal growth and understanding others’ feelings. There are awkward, sometimes painful interactions along the way, but Katie plows through self-doubt, even if she stumbles sometimes. The artwork complements the humorous, intuitive writing, from expertly timed pauses in conversation to expressive body language. Venable and Yue share creative samples and stories from their youth in the back. Katie and her mom are white, Beth is brown-skinned, and Madeline is Black.
VERDICT The complex yet effortless mixture of tween angst with superhero subplots is a recipe for success for returning readers and those familiar with superhero tropes.

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