Miss Cat: The Case of the Curious Canary

Thames & Hudson. (Miss Cat: Bk. 1). Apr. 2024. 64p. tr. from French by Jill Phythian . Tr $12.95. ISBN 9780500660263.
Gr 5 Up–The detective agency run by Miss Cat gets a much-needed case when retired widower Mixus Maximus arrives asking for help in locating his kidnapped canary, Harry. Miss Cat, a fair-skinned child in a cat hood, begins her investigation with interviews and site visits throughout town. Her catlike movements and her “sharp senses,” her excellent hearing and ability to “land on both feet,” set her up as the purrfect investigator for the case. As she locates clues and suspects, she is drawn into a family drama that includes a magic Eye of Elzob as well as Animorphosis (talking animals who were once humans). The illustrations, with strong black pencils and a vivid color palette, are the strength of this book and help with establishing a mysterious mood and antiquated atmosphere. Readers are introduced to an interesting cast of animal characters while humans are presented as white with one character using a wheelchair. Translated from French, this graphic novel still includes some references such as “krostz” (money), as well as French signs throughout the European city. Although an interesting concept, it has more misses than hits. References to the elderly man as an “old coot” and “stupid old man” seem out of place, in addition to references of criminals drinking “cocktails.” Although some older readers might like the edge in the story, it felt like too much is happening in the narrative, and not enough of building a likable or interesting character with Miss Cat.
VERDICT A secondary purchase perhaps to see if there is an audience at your library.

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