On a cold blustery winter’s day, there is nothing better than curling up in a soft blanket with a hot cup of coffee, a dog lying across your lap and a brand new comic book involving two best friends, a far-out-in-space space station and a three headed kitten. Right? Right. Straight from the library’s kid’s graphic novel bookshelf I bring you the first book in today’s review–Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks.
This book is a little more than a casual read at 226 pages but moves quickly. It tells the story of best friends, Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega, living on the Wilnick SS deep in space. Sanity is the brains of the operation and has used her scientific know-how to create a “cute” three-headed kitten pet, which of course is prohibited, as is the bioengineered meat she is feeding it. Once the kitten is discovered by Tallulah’s mom, Dr. Vega who happens to be a chief engineer on board the space station, the girls are grounded and the kitten taken to the lab for observation under adult supervision.
All heck breaks loose around the space station, rolling black-outs, random alarms and discovery the Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds has escaped her cage. The girls race to find her before the adults can, fearing the worst will come to the beloved pet. Turns out that despite Princess Sparkle growing into a ginormous cat (turns out that meat was all kinds of no good), she has nothing to do with the destruction, but rather there was an infestation of rats off a docked ship that happen to have a taste for coolant and have chewed through and siphoned off all the space station’s coolant.
Sanity’s plan to save the space station is their only hope so as all the inhabitants are shuttled off to temporary safety, Sanity stays behind as the only one who can carry out the crazy engineering required to save them all.
While I loved the characters in this book, particularly the strong female characters (adult and “children” alike), and the plot itself was entertaining, I did feel like it became kind of a chore to read. Maybe if there had been more defined “chapters”or sections to break it up a little? Or maybe it could have just been condensed somehow? But regardless I’ll be interested to see what Molly Brooks cooks up in her future works–hopefully Sanity and Tallulah will be back for another far-out adventure.
Final Grade: B+
Sticking with the space theme, the second book I picked up was Drew Brockington’s 2017 release, CatStronauts: Mission Moon. In the first of a three book series, this quartet of kittens travels to the moon to build a solar power plant to save the Earth from an energy crisis. Time is of the essence as the CatStronauts train, mission control makes the plans and the engineers build the rocket ship before they dash off to save the world.
I really did love this book to pieces. I could have just hugged it like a sweet snuggley teddy bear. However, the best parts of this quick read were the witty references and creative homages to pop-culture. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought the best way to review this book would be to share some of my favorite panels.
1) 2001: Space Odyssey ala the tuna can.
Although I’ve never seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey myself, you can’t be married to a pop culture geek like my husband for going on 12 years without picking up some pop culture references especially when they are as blatant as this one.
Yup, instead of the bone, in this book we get a can of tuna slowly drifting through space as interludes between chapters in the book. I don’t think Kubrick would have approved, but who cares? It’s super cute and fitting as one of a kitten’s most valuable tools (well…that and a can opener).
2) The “Some Assembly Required” rocket ship.
As a mom of a 6 year old, I have put together my fair share of Legos, so I can definitely relate to the massive task that our brave kittens have in front of them. I mean, look at the size of that box! That’s 5000 pieces at least! Talk about a lot of brick!
Seriously though, wonderful idea of throwing in the fact that the rocket ship had to be assembled out of a gigantic shipping crate filled with those little Styrofoam peanuts. Again, spot on visual gags like this really set this book apart from the rest.
3) First Cat on the Moon
Not all of this book was sight gags and cuddly cats, there were moments of real touching emotion as well.
Whether intentional heartwarming or not, I just loved the brief moment when our cat version Neil Armstrong stared up at the night sky that wished our crew of Cosmic kittens the best on their adventure back into space.
Even someone like me who grew up at the tail end of the space age still remembers the awe and inspiration of seeing one of the Space shuttles lift off again for another mission into the unknown. The knowledge that we were exploring something bigger than just our little planet and that we were leaving behind our petty differences for something much higher than ourselves.
It’s really sad that my own kids don’t get to see those things as regularly as I used to now that the space program is pretty much a joke. To think we really did send astronauts to the Moon at one point…now that’s all just a distant memory.
4) An Apollo 13 Vest
Cameo by Ed Harris? The iconic white NASA vest leads off the Apollo 13 references, followed by a near replica of the Go/No Go for launch scene. The only thing that could have made it better would be one of the CatStronauts coming down with the clap but I suppose that wouldn’t have been kid appropriate.
And we were missing Gary Sinise…who doesn’t love Gary Sinese? Man, its been so long since I’ve watched this movie… “Andrew….date night…”
5) Ready to “Lunch” Joke!
‘Nough said! These are the kinds of corny dad joke type puns that fill up my everyday family life thanks to my husband, Andrew. And although I may roll my eyes at his jokes, like him, sometimes the delivery is so stinkin’ cute that you can’t help but smile.
Poor Waffles always has his eyes on the prize.
Final Grade: A for Adorable