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Fat Cat

Fat Cat

4.5 71
by Robin Brande

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Cat's smart, sassy and funny, but thin she's not.  Until her class science project. That's when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have


Cat's smart, sassy and funny, but thin she's not.  Until her class science project. That's when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren't too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .

This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.

The paperback edition includes fun, tasty recipes and an interview with the author about her own experiences as an overweight teen.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Can an American teen survive 207 days without junk food and modern conveniences? Budding scientist Catherine (Cat) Locke finds out the answer after embarking on her most ambitious experiment yet: living the lifestyle of a primitive Homo erectus. Cat is determined to win a prize at the science fair and outshine her rival and former friend, Matt, “Mr. I've-Won-More Science-Fairs-Than-Any-of-You,” but that's not her only motivation: she hopes that by following the diet of her ancestors, she'll shed some unwanted pounds. Going without processed food, technology and motorized transportation isn't easy (“A big fat Snickers and a slice of pizza would have made everything so much better”), but Cat learns much about herself and other members of the human species as she observes changes in her body and attitude, while noting how others react to her metamorphosis (namely, she's suddenly juggling the attention of several boys). Well-versed in adolescent emotions and behaviors, Brande (Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature) offers a fresh, funny portrait of a strong-minded young woman hurdling obstacles and fighting cravings to reach her goal. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
The premise of this book sounds like a Halloween sitcom: girl does science experiment to look hot and possibly ensnare love interest. Fortunately, any similarity stops there. The book's honesty, characters, and grounding in actual science save it from cliche and make it an engaging, interesting read. Cat, the titular narrator, a junk-food junkie whose life is largely sedentary, works in secret on a science experiment to find out if eating the way early humans ate will make her happier and healthier. As her experiment developes, she ends up confronting issues of not only diet, but also behavior, friendship, and scientific ethics. Cat is a narrator who is easy to like: she is honest, funny, and avoids the cliches so often foisted upon overweight characters. She has friends, she has a supportive family, and she has fantastic grades in an advanced placement program. All that she does not have is a healthy lifestyle—and that comes under control quickly as she uses her intelligence and resolve to improve her overall health. A cast of likeable secondary characters supports Cat in her quest: her brother, best friend, and best friend's boyfriend are all real, believable and positive forces in both Cat's life and the book. This book will find a ready home with readers interested in true-life stories about characters they can believe—and believe in. Reviewer: Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Rotund brainiac Catherine "Cat" Locke, a junior, becomes her own science-fair project "guinea pig," trying to live a prehistoric lifestyle for seven months. Out for revenge on former best friend/crush and detested rival Matt McKinney, she gives up cars, phones, TV, computers, and processed foods in her determination to win this year's competition. Cat's slimmed-down body attracts several boys' attention, and she expands her project to observe the effects on herself and others, coached in the social graces by her beautiful, brilliant girlfriend Amanda. Delightful character depth and humorous plot twists make this a satisfying read as Cat confronts the real issues separating her from Matt. Brande precisely captures the different psyches of teenage guys and girls, weaving fitness, friendship, and forgiveness around the scientific method.—Joyce Adams Burner, National Archives at Kansas City, MO
Kirkus Reviews
To win the science fair, get revenge on a boy and become her true self, Cat, a hefty high-school student, decides to be her own experiment. Cat will live a prehistoric lifestyle, which involves walking everywhere, avoiding technology and eschewing processed food. Part fat-girl-slims-down book, part advertisement for the real-food movement and part love story, this novel chronicles the many changes in Cat's life as she goes from stout to scorching. The science-experiment part of the tale is a bit of a gimmick; it morphs from science fair to social science once Cat gets cute enough to attract boys. A subplot involving a restaurant venture bores, and a half-articulated argument for vegetarianism goes nowhere, but many girls may find the heart of the novel-how Cat changes psychologically as her fat melts away-inspirational. Others will find it discouraging: Savvy readers will notice that the book has an internal contradiction, strongly stating that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover while simultaneously showing how much better it is to be thin-which mirrors society's own pretty exactly. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Fat Cat

By Robin Brande

Knopf Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2009 Robin Brande
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375944499

"You're all good little machines," Mr. Fizer told us. He sat there this afternoon in his tweed jacket and his white shirt and plaid bow tie and glared at us over the top of his half-glasses. Which was a seriously scary sight.

"You know how to take tests," he said. "You know how to memorize facts and mimic everything your teachers have taught you--but do any of you really know how to think? We're about to find out."

I know I should have been concentrating. I should have kept my eyes locked on Mr. Fizer, practically reading his lips to make sure I caught every word. His class is going to be the hardest thing I've ever taken in my life.

But sometimes my body parts have a mind of their own. And there my eyes were, straying off to the right, seeking out that one particular face in the crowd the way they always do, no matter how many times I've told them to stop. And since this was a crowd of only nine, he was way too easy to find.

Unfortunately, right at that moment Matt McKinney was looking back at me, and our eyes met for just that one split second, and even though I instantly looked away, it was too late. I had to see that subtle little smirk of his, and it made me wish more than anything I had something sharp and heavy to throw at his head.

"Here are therules," Mr. Fizer said.

As if he needed to tell us. Every one of us understood the deal long before today--Fizer's Special Topics in Research Science class is legendary, not the least because every few years someone has to run out of there on the first day and vomit because of the stress.

I had a light lunch.

"When I call your name," Mr. Fizer said, "you will come up, close your eyes, and choose a picture. You will then have one hour in which to devise your topic. You may not use the Internet or any other resources. You may not discuss it with your classmates. You will have only your own creativity to rely upon.

"We do it this way," he continued, "because true scientific progress comes through innovative thinking, not merely reciting what other scientists have taught us. Albert Einstein believed that imagination is more important than knowledge, and I agree. We must always push ourselves to discover more. Understood?"

No one bothered answering. We were all too busy staring at the folder he'd just opened on his desk, revealing this year's Stack.

The Stack. It's your whole future resting on a pick of the cards. Only in Mr. Fizer's case, the deck of cards is actually a stack of pictures he's gathered throughout the year--pages torn out of magazines like National Geographic and Nature and Science.
If you luck out, you can end up with a picture that applies to a field you're already interested in--like for me, insects and their co-evolution with plants. It's what I spent the whole summer helping -research in one of the biology labs at the university. I figured if I ended up with a picture even remotely dealing with either plants or bugs, I'd be able to use everything I just learned about fig wasps.

On the other hand, you can also end up with something completely outside your subject field, which is why people like George Garmine had to flee the room last year to puke.

Because if you bomb, you might as well plan a career as a drone in some laboratory at some obscure college in a town nobody's heard of, because you're never going to get the premium offers. But if you do well--I mean really well--you can not only get Mr. Fizer's recommendation for college applications, but you might also win your category at the science fair and then go on to internationals. Some of Mr. Fizer's students have done just that. And then you have a great shot at winning scholarships and impressing college recruiters, so that even people like me can end up at places like MIT or Duke or Harvard or wherever. So yeah, it's a big deal.
We all just wanted to get on with it already, but Mr. Fizer still had one more rule to tell us about.

"This is not a time for teamwork," he said. "This is a competition. This is your chance to show bold thinking and a true commitment to your science. For the next seven months you will work independently and in secret. I am the only person you will share any details with until it is time to reveal your project at the science fair in March. Is that clear? Good. Miss Chang, we will begin with you."

Lindsay wiped her palms against her pants and walked so slowly to the front of the room it was like she'd just been told to come up there and drink poison. She stood in front of Mr. Fizer's desk, did the palm swipe one more time, then reached into the Stack.

You could tell Mr. Fizer was watching to make sure she kept her eyes closed. Lindsay pulled out a picture, pressed it against her chest, and went back to her seat without even looking at what she'd chosen. That seemed like a good strategy--no point in freaking out in front of everyone if it turned out to be really bad.

Next he called up Farah, Alexandra, Margo, and Nick. Then me.

I eased between the lab tables and walked to the front, and that's when I started to think about my butt. And about how Matt McKinney was no doubt looking at it right at that moment and noticing how much larger it was than the last time he saw it. Seven more pounds over the summer, thank you very much. When you're working in a lab as intense as the one where I was, all you really have time for every day is the vending machines and the Dairy Queen on the corner. Everyone at that lab was a pudgeball.

So I stood in front of Mr. Fizer's desk, my hand shaking, thinking about my future and how it was about to change, but really thinking more about my thighs and gigabutt and trying to pull my shirt down a little lower to cover them, and finally I closed my eyes and reached into the Stack. That's when I heard Matt clear his throat, which sounded like he was suppressing a laugh, and my hand jerked from where it was, and I suppose that makes it fate that I chose the picture I did.

I couldn't look. I clutched the paper against my chest and went back to my seat and did my best to control my breathing.

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Fat Cat by Robin Brande Copyright © 2009 by Robin Brande. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robin Brande is a former trial attorney who is also the author of the young adult novel Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature. Robin was herself an overweight teen, and knows that a smart girl can figure out a smart way to be fit. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Fat Cat 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Neyce123 More than 1 year ago
This book was very inspiring to me. As a teenager, we as girls always feel insecure about our looks. But if we pay more attention to who we are and do what we feel is better for us as people, we will be better off. This novel teaches us that its not always the popular girl who gets the guy.
TAnnC More than 1 year ago
I think we are all guilty of liking quick and easy to read chick-lit books. At first I thought "Fat Cat" was going to be another sappy teenage love story. But I was definitely wrong. Robin Brande writes not only about the drama that teenagers face on a daily basis, but also incorporates a lot of different themes. The whole story is surrounded by this one science project that Catherine Locke (aka Kit Cat or Cat) is working on to beat her ex-best friend Matt McKinney. What starts out as a project for bragging rights, turns into a 207 day transformation. She becomes prehistoric (with minor changes) to "show the impact of environmental, nutritional, behavioral, and technological aspects of different lifestyles" (Brande321) to prove how unhealthy people are these days. Herself included. Cat looses weight and feels her body becoming healthier. With the help of her two best friends, her self esteem increases along with all the drama that comes with it. Her entire world starts changing and finally makes her confront her worst fear: Talking and reconnecting with Matt. I like the way this book is written because the characters are well developed. Every single character makes some sort of transformation even if it is a small one. Like, her best friend Amanda becomes more patient and starts looking at situations in others perspectives. I like that the ending is still sweet and leaves you happy but at the same time isn't perfect. It still has the disappointments teenagers' face, so it is realistic. Aside from the information Brande gives about living a healthy lifestyle, this book also gives the reader little lessons. Not the revelation kind, but ones that make you rethink how you act with people or even live your daily life. For example one of the many quotes is, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler" (314). Not only did this line prove Cat's science project but it also showed that people over analyze everything. We make our lives too complicated for our own good. We should keep things simple but never lower our abilities. At least that is what I took from it. Over all I really liked the book and would recommend it to any teenage girl. It's really relatable even if you are nothing like Cat. It's also one of those books that you can't put down. Not because of suspense, but because you become attached to the story and the characters. This book is like when you're watching a movie and you yell at your television when a character does something you don't like. In my eyes, if a book can make you do that, the author must be doing something right.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The people that havent read this book really need to read this amazing book. YOU WILL SEE HOW GREAT OF A BOOK THIS IS IF YOU WILL JUST READ IT. The people that rate this under 5 stars dont know what they are talking about!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Addicting, great plot, I would recommend it to a teenage girl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is with all the weird names like Firestorm? Anyway, loved the book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very nice book people should read this book*:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is an awesome stroy about a girl whos science project makes her hot and about her forgiving a person along the way i absoulty recommed it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really loved it it was suxh a grat love/weight lose story it definatly a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was amazing and cute
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LITERALLY the best book ive ever read.
Marissa Howard More than 1 year ago
This book was definitly a great read it adresses all the problems a girl faces: being self-concious, worrying about guys, balancing her life with her work. Cat is inspirational seeing her do and accomplish what she wants to do makes you want to make a change in your life too. Read it. You will love it.
dramaqueenx3 More than 1 year ago
Good book i recomend everyone read and try doin what cat did in seven months im starting to day
aceeluvjb More than 1 year ago
i loved this book. it was really inspirational, and made me want to b on a diet like hers to lose a few pounds, and also, now i want to do something about those friendships tht fell apart. this book was veeery inspirational :).
Hailey Martin More than 1 year ago
i did not like how the story played out.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
For her science experiment Catherine "Cat," goes on a diet like that of the cave people thanks to a picture she chose. Through seven months, Cat notices changes not only from losing weight but herself, all the while angry at her former best friend Matt because of what she and Amanda had heard when they were kids. This book was really great and surprised me at times. I kept thinking why couldn't Cat just confront Matt and even Cat mentioned this. Plus in most books I read the siblings seem to hate one another or act like enemies or something. In this book however, it was a relief to find that Cat and Peter acted like siblings, you know? It was a nice change of pace, is all I'm saying. Liked how Cat kept with the diet and saw it through.
Reader734 More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book and it's a good book for anyone to relate to. This book inspired me to just do something because Cat is so determined to get an A on her science project while at the same time trying to lose weight through the project. Really inspiring and highly recomended!!!
ReadReaderReading More than 1 year ago
A couple of years ago she overheard the person (who she thought was her best friend)say something that she never forget (dont want to give it away!) To get back at him she decides taht she is gunna whip his ass in the science competition. Her pledge: To find out what this new era of junk food and technology has dont to our bodies. She plans to accomplish this by using minimal technology and eating purely completley and absoloutly Natural! With her new but amazing best friend by her side, who knows how it could turn out!? I HEART YOU ROBIN BRANDE!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Catherine Locke has hated Matt McKinney ever since she overheard him say something mean about her at the seventh grade science fair. Before that fateful day, they were best friends. Now, she just wants to win this year's science fair. Science fair participation is a requisite for Mr. Fizer's Special Topics in Research Science class. The only problem is her project will depend on what picture she pulls from his stack. Mr. Fizer creates a folder with various pictures taken from magazines, and the students have to create a project around that picture. It could literally be anything and the students can't look when they pull a picture. Cat sees Matt actually smile when he looks at his selection. So when she pulls a picture of early hominis (think Neanderthals) surrounding a dead animal, she is devastated. How can she make THAT into a first place science project? Cat started plumping up in middle school. She used to love swimming, and the exercise kept her metabolism in check. But that one fateful summer, it seemed like her body took on a life of its own. Thankfully her best friend, Amanda, loves her just the way she is. So when Cat gets the idea to see how living like the early hominis would affect her, Amanda embraces the idea with her and supports her endeavor. Her parents, though not as quick to approve, finally agree, with the stipulation that Cat talks to the dietician at the hospital her mom works at, to ensure proper nutrition. This begins Cat's year-long journey of giving up modern technology, walking everywhere (though there were some safety exceptions included), and eating only what the early ancestors would have been able to produce. What Cat doesn't expect is how her body, and ultimately her own self-perception, changes during her scientific experiment. As the new Cat emerges, she finds the courage to finally confront Matt about the day that changed her life so long ago. FAT CAT is a fantastic book! I can't say enough about it Told in a sort of journal format, Cat shares her life as her science project progresses. The reader gets to feel her frustration, desperation, despair, uncertainty, and ultimately relief as she learns to accept herself for who she is. She realizes that she has used Matt as her reason for self-loathing, when it may have been far deeper than that. FAT CAT moved quickly, and as the pounds start to fall off Cat, you won't want to put the book down. One thing that really worked in the story is that not once does Ms. Brande reveal Cat's starting weight, nor what she wound up losing. The reader gets to experience the wonder of discovery with Cat and watch her blossom with her newfound confidence. Follow Cat on her science experiment and enjoy the ride. You won't be disappointed. I know I wasn't!
JoanneLevy More than 1 year ago
What a great book. I loved the premise - overweight girl takes a project to the extreme by changing her lifestyle to that of our distant ancestors, cutting out processed food and modern conveniences. Not only does Cat overhaul her eating, but she overhauls herself, digging deep and finding the real girl inside. This was a different take on the regular girl makeover story - one that felt real and authentic and not based purely on looks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fat Cat is Robin Brande's 2nd novel that I have read. the first being Evolution, Me and other freaks of nature. I absolutely loved Evolution, and I knew I would like Fat Cat as well. Fat Cat had well developed characters, good writing, and was an overall good book. Cat started out as a smart, fat, and shy girl with no boyfriend at all. She was always the third wheel. Then she starts this obsessive diet plan for a project and gets people to start noticing her. The story follows Cat over the course of half a school year as she goes through her struggles with this project. This was a good concept because most books only take place for a month or two, not a long journey where you jump into their lives at different times every chapter. Robin's style of using foreshadowing in her writing makes this book even better. While I like Evolution, me and other freaks of nature a tiny bit better, Fat Cat was still a really good book that I would'nt mind reading again and again and again...
geli_bookworm09 More than 1 year ago
such an amazing book :D...plotline is something u dont always read...i soooooooo love it, higly recomend it to anybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 :DDDDDLOVE IT!!!that's all i can say!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
God, people! Fat girl does experiment on herself, turns thin, gets guys. What does that say? Fat people will never find love? Your life will not be truly complete unless your thin? If that was true, we Americans should've died out already! -TheSociopathicSocialistHereticChild