Taking a quick break from my own middle grade speculative fiction Cybils reading to talk about the book I nominated for the elementary/middle grade graphic novel category.
Scratch9: Cat of Nine Worlds by Rob M. Worley and Joshua Buchanan. Hermes Press, 2015.
Scratch9 is a fun indy series that my family discovered at Kids Read Comics, the great little kids-and-teens con that’s in Ann Arbor every year. I was really happy when a new volume appeared in our house this fall! (Thanks, love!) In case you weren’t able to find volume one, The Pet Project, when I recommended it a couple of years ago, here’s a quick refresher: Scratch is a cat who has met all 8 of his other lives, very cool felines living in different times and places around the world. The evil and of course nefarious Dr. Schrödinger would like nothing better than to harness Scratch’s power for himself, which usually involves great danger for both Scratch and his beloved owner, Penelope.
In this volume, Scratch has snuck himself into Penelope’s suitcase as she’s off to Camp Robo. Penny is really smart and good with programming and robots, so this should be right up her alley – except that it turns out to be an elaborate trap set up by none other than Dr. Schrödinger. (Cue the scary music.) This time he has even more on his side – bigger computers, smart robots, and Strick, a cat much like Scratch who is out to make Dr. Schrödinger’s evil dreams come true. Scratch is blasted to the time of one of his other selves, and must make it through to all of his other lives, collecting the powerful 9-stones on the way, before he can get back to Penelope and stop Dr. S. Penny, though, far from waiting helplessly for Scratch to come back for her, is doing everything she can to turn Dr. Schrödinger’s robots against him and lead the way for Scratch to get back to her.
This is still a super-fun adventure series with broad appeal. The complication comes mostly from the time-travel, but even that is pretty straightforward. Mostly this is just fun with a big helping of pet friendship and loyalty, as Scratch and Penelope overcome all obstacles to get back together. The art is a classic crisp and clear cartoon style, full of energy and in full color. Buy it now – or ask your library to buy it now – as I’m afraid it will go out of print as quickly as its predecessor.