Change Doesn’t Paws for Anyone: Growing Up with Katie the Catsitter, a guest post by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue
There are few constants in life. You will always miss the bus by one minute. You will always drop your bagel schmear-side down. You will always get mauled by your pets if you accidentally crinkle a bag. (Seriously, we would pay good money if there was a store that sold food in completely silent packaging.)
But the biggest constant in life is CHANGE.
Unlike us, comics and cartoon characters are able to avoid change. Charlie Brown has been in the third grade since the 1950’s. 10-year-old Bart Simpson has been warning people about having cows for 30+ years. The kids of Bob’s Burgers have celebrated nine Christmases and eight Thanksgivings, but never aged a day or gained a pound from stuffing.
The superhero realm is no different. A hero who is bruised and injured at the end of a big battle shows up without injury, scars, or a single smudge on their spandex the next day.
When it comes to our lives, there are few bigger times for change than Middle School. Best Friends for Never takes place a month after the first book. The school year is starting and Katie has to say goodbye to the freedoms of summer and spending every day with her new skater friends. Bethany had been far away at camp for months, but the distance between them only grows when she returns to New York with a new name—Beth?!—and new boyfriend in tow.
The changes are signified both in the storyline, but also visually. Beth is taller than in Book 1. Her teal hair they dyed together has faded. She’s often texting or checking her phone. She’s more obsessed with celebrity and appearance. But Beth is not a villain. She’s just…growing up. And Katie is growing, too. She’s trying to balance two groups of friends, and frankly not doing a great job. We’ve always loved books with flawed main characters, and Katie absolutely falls into that realm. If there’s two choices to make in Best Friends for Never, Katie will often go the wrong route.
But it’s her flaws that make us connect with her, and when she finds her path (and SPOILER! gets to scale a building wearing suction cup shoes!!!) we’re cheering both for her and for ourselves.
We wanted all of the characters in Katie the Catsitter to grow and change—not just the kids. Katie’s mom is changing, learning how to deal with Katie growing up. Mr. B learns to screenprint and expands his business. But it’s Madeline that changes the most. In Book 1, Madeline is captured by the corrupt “hero”, The Eastern Screech. It’s the first time she’s ever been caught. In a normal superhero tale she would have escaped and just gone on to her next battle—though I’m not sure Katie the Catsitter counts as a “normal” tale due to the amount of cats with rhythmic gymnastics training that help in that escape. But even adults get scared sometimes and Madeline has to come to terms with her emotions. She spends much of Book 2 working them out and getting up the courage to admit the fears even exist. It’s Katie who helps Madeline find her strength.
Change can be cathartic! Change can be the thing that makes you grow! We wanted to create a tale that says you don’t have to choose a best friend. A story that says everyone deals with self-doubt sometimes. A story that says there’s always some gray and no real good guys and bad guys—everyone is flawed and that’s okay.
And most of all a story that says if you encounter a cat holding a blow-torch, maybe just walk the other way.
Meet the authors
Colleen AF Venable is the author of the National Book Award-nominated graphic novel Kiss #8 and has designed numerous award-winning graphic novels at First Second books. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her two pet rabbits. Visit her at colleenafvenable.com and @colleenaf.
Stephanie Yue is a lifetime comic fan and martial artist (with a black belt in Kung Fu) and travels the world by motorbike. Stephanie was the colorist for the megahit, industry-changing Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Visit Steph at stephanieyue.com and on Twitter at @quezzie.
About Katie the Catsitter Book 2: Best Friends for Never
Calling all Raina Telgemeier fans! It’s back to school for Katie the Catsitter in this purr-fectly irresistible graphic novel series about friendship, heroes, and cats (lots of cats)!
Katie loves skating with the Wheelas and the fact that she’s officially a superhero sidekick. But now that school’s starting, everything’s changing. The Mousetress is getting blamed for things Katie knows she didn’t do. Sidekick training is NOT as exciting as she’d hoped. Katie’s best friend Beth is back in town and Beth’s new boyfriend is always hanging around (ugh!). Not to mention that all of Katie’s friends are mad at her. Fixing this will be harder than any skateboarding trick. But with the help of 217 slightly out of the ordinary cats, Katie’s going to try!
Can she clear the Mousestress’s name, uncover the real supervillain, and become the sidekick (and the friend) she’s always dreamed of being?
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 02/15/2022
Series: Katie the Catsitter #2
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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