Cat Ninja

Andrews McMeel. (Cat Ninja: Bk. 1). Oct. 2020. 160p. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781524861384; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781524860943.
Gr 4-6–Cody and Mercado offer a humorous and action-packed take on the idea that pets lead secret lives. Claude is a regular gray house cat by day and legendary Cat Ninja by night. He fights evil in Metro City with the skills he learned from a gentle ninja master who rescued him from an alley. Metro City is also home to the dastardly Doctor Von Malice, a witchlike human with green-tinged skin, who has enlisted a menagerie of villainous animals to wreak havoc. Ninja Cat’s archenemy is a lethargic house pet named Mr. Squeaks, also known as the diabolical Master Hamster, who is determined to hack Metro City’s email accounts. In each chapter, Cat Ninja takes on a different enemy: intimidating raccoons, a literal cat burglar, an enraged roach, and an enthusiastic robot dog. Ultimately, these encounters build to a final battle with Doctor Von Malice. Amid the thrilling adventures, Cody includes relatable subplots of family drama and lessons about Internet safety without stopping the momentum of the story or making it didactic. Mercado’s frenetic art will have readers feel as though they, too, are swinging through the skies of Metro City. The vibrant use of color dominated by shades of purple allows for the seamless switching between the animals’ personas. Though most characters are animals, the humans, such as the pet owners, appear to be diverse in terms of race and ethnicity.
VERDICT Bright, funny, and brimming with kid appeal. It’ll be hard to keep this one on shelves, and readers will quickly demand a sequel.

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