cover image The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza (The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza #1)

The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza (The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza #1)

Mac Barnett, illus. by Shawn Harris. HarperCollins/Tegen, $15.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-308408-7

Adapting the “Live Cartoon” series that shares this title’s name, Barnett (John’s Turn) and Harris (Have You Ever Seen a Flower?) replace innovative papercraft and DIY camerawork with an assured graphic novel collaboration. When rats from another galaxy begin devouring the moon, Earth’s smartest scientists dispatch a cybernetically enhanced cat—the First Cat in Space—to deal with the threat. Accompanied by a guileless, toenail-clipping robot named LOZ 4000 and the proud Moon Queen, First Cat adventures across a madcap geography (frozen wastelands, violent seas, living forests) to confront the Rat King. An effective fluid panel structure and frequent perspective changes propel this fast-paced escapade from gag to gag in location after increasingly improbable location. Harris uses a thick, confident line to create an expansive cast of dynamic characters (mostly light-skinned) out of simple shapes, filled and shaded with textural colored pencil. In full, vivid color, the loose cartoon style exudes an infectious glee, flawlessly matching Barnett’s freewheeling, absurdist humor and plotting. Includes sheet music to one of the original series’ tunes, plus a link to a full collection of tracks. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)