First Second’s Science Comics is rapidly becoming one of my favorite graphic novel series and I’m not just saying that because the latest entry is Cats. (But, let’s be real. I freakin’ love cats.) When I pitch these books to other parents and friends I tell them there’s at least one book out there for every reader and if there isn’t a Science Comics release about a particular topic there probably will be at some point. Andy Hirsch also wrote and illustrated the Dogs book in the series so it only makes sense that he’d follow up with mankind’s other best friend: cats.
Just as Dogs was narrated by loveable mutt Rudy, Cats is narrated by a calico cat named Bean. Bean is a former stray turned social media star who spends the book teaching young readers about cats like herself. It’s a clever set up that allows Bean to tell her story and also play on our obsession with cat videos on the Internet.
The majority of Bean’s story focuses on her kitten-hood living on the streets. As she learns the basics of survival and generally being a cat, the book finds opportunities to jump in and explain various things. Young readers get brief explanation of everything from hunting, eyesight, claws, and more. When Bean finds herself joining up with an established cat colony, she learns more about how cats interact with one another and the importance of human interaction as well as cats’ domestication.
Often times throughout the book it’s clear that the science of cats isn’t very different when talking about domestic cats and big cats. So while the majority of the book may be about Bean and domestic contemporaries, many other big cats are featured throughout as well. Hirsch adds in information about how other cats can adapt to their environments, the way they hunt, and their various unique attributes.
Andy Hirsch’s Dogs was one of my favorite Science Comics and now I can say the same thing about Cats. He does a fantastic job of mixing hard science with a fun story (and adorable narrator) to keep readers invested. I learned a lot that I didn’t know about cats and I never got bored. In a lot of non-fiction books – including some of the other Science Comics entries – I get a little overwhelmed by the science regardless of how interested I might be in the book or topic. I definitely don’t have that problem with Cats (or Dogs for that matter)! Plus it’s fantastically illustrated with adorable cats.
Wondering if your young readers will enjoy this one? Mine did! Cats is one of those books that as soon as it arrived it was immediately stolen by my twelve year old and I had to wait until he was done to get it back. It sticks out to kids in a good way. They know cats and many of them love cats so they’ll want to read it and they’ll easily learn something along the way.
It’s a great pick and a great example of why I love Science Comics so much. Definitely check it out and/or pick it up for the young readers in your life!