cover image Catalyst


Sarah Beth Durst. Clarion, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-358-06502-9

When animal lover Zoe begs her parents to let her keep the tiny kitten she finds just before her 12th birthday, they agree, provided she assumes all responsibility. But after the newly named Pipsqueak starts growing at an exponential rate and reveals her ability to talk and read, Zoe turns to her best friend Harrison and then her estranged aunt Alecia for help, hoping to return Pipsqueak to normal. Now Zoe and Harrison must ride the mountain lion–size (and still growing) Pipsqueak to Alecia’s home, several hours away in the mountains of New Hampshire, while avoiding detection. Along the way, they attract other weird talking pets, including a mouse with butterfly wings and a green terrier. Durst (Race the Sands) imbues her tale with humor, thoroughly embracing its unusual premise with a sense of wonder. Though conflict and danger are limited to the interpersonal and familial—Zoe’s parents are no-nonsense, while her beloved older brother, Alex, is leaving for college soon—the real emphasis is on friendship and found family, as Zoe’s misfit companions bond throughout their journey. While the resolution feels a little too easy, the concept lends itself well to follow-up stories. Ages 8–12. Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Literary. (June)