Katman

Overview

Kit is a bored sixteen-year-old with nothing to do one summer when he starts feeding stray cats. He loves it when cool, artistic Jess helps him out, even though he has to endure constant taunting by her disaffected metalhead friends. They make fun of him for being like the local cat lady, but Kit doesn’t care—especially after Jess draws him an anime-style avatar named Katman.

Exploring themes of abandonment and the transformative power of art, this is an emotionally astute ...

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Overview

Kit is a bored sixteen-year-old with nothing to do one summer when he starts feeding stray cats. He loves it when cool, artistic Jess helps him out, even though he has to endure constant taunting by her disaffected metalhead friends. They make fun of him for being like the local cat lady, but Kit doesn’t care—especially after Jess draws him an anime-style avatar named Katman.

Exploring themes of abandonment and the transformative power of art, this is an emotionally astute coming-of-age tale from the hugely talented Kevin C. Pyle.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This great coming-of-age tale promotes nonconformity as well as responsibility (and young love, too, but to a lesser extent). It's the summer break, and lacking friends or funds, teenager Kit is hanging around the house too much. Wandering aimlessly through his low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, Kit takes pity on the stray cats he sees. He feels as abandoned as they are, and is soon feeding them, first from his mother's pantry and then by stealing. But by caring for the kitties, the boy begins a journey of growth and maturity, meeting people like the “crazy” cat lady (who was once involved in radical politics); the shopkeeper who catches Kit stealing and teaches him about Jainism; and most importantly, Jess, a cute punk rock girl with artistic ambitions. She's impressed that even though Kit is not sure why he's doing it, unlike her so-called friends he's doing something selfless and refuses to waver from his beliefs under peer pressure. Jess further encourages Kit by creating Katman, a manga-like superhero alter ego. Pyle's loose, vibrant art brings an immediacy to this story that often reads as if we're peeking into Jess's notebooks. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Fifteen-year-old Kit is in a rut. Too poor to hang out with the rich kids and too unmotivated to be a brain like his brother, Kit spends most of his time watching TV—until his brother kicks him out of the house and onto the streets. There, Kit takes to feeding stray cats, first with tuna from his house and later with food he shoplifts from a store. His actions earn him ridicule from a local gang of street toughs, but also help him gain new friends in a shopkeeper who lets him work in his store for cat food and in Jess, a member of the street gang who creates Katman, a comic character that she calls Kit's "avatar." But when Kit's mother orders him to get rid of his cats, Kit must find a safe place for the felines—even if that means asking the neighborhood's "crazy" cat lady for help. As a story that explores challenging apathy and breaking away from group mentality, Katman is laudable for its messages, although its idealistic happy ending clashes a bit with the grim atmosphere that infuses much of the story. Good for teenagers seeking graphic novels outside the usual superhero or manga genres. Reviewer: Michael Jung
VOYA - Teresa Copeland
Tossed from the house so his brother can study, Kit's low income neighborhood holds nothing to do for a bored teen until he comes across a group of stray cats. The cats seem as lost and unwanted as Kit feels, so he begins to feed them—despite the derision of a group of other teens. One youth, cynical artist Jess, finds Kit's clumsy and occasionally bumbling determination to care for the cats interesting and begins to draw a comic in which he is the hero. Kit becomes so attached to providing for the cats that he defies his mother, gets a job, and even befriends the neighborhood cat lady. Beautifully simple and straightforward, the story does not provide any surprises, but that is part of what makes it touching. Kit is so realistically average and normal, a disconnected teen who found something to care about, and finds out how much one can change when driven for a cause—even so small a cause as saving some cats. He is also typically teen in his stubbornness to carry through even though no one around him seems to get why he cares so much. The art starts off black and white, with only Jess's art colored red, but more illustrations turn red as Kit becomes more confident in achieving his goals. The style itself is as rough and simple as the story, except for the pages of Jess's manga style comic, but it works. Reviewer: Teresa Copeland
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–Kit, 15, doesn’t have anything to do over the summer, so he begins feeding stray cats in his low-income neighborhood. This project, which becomes difficult to stop once he starts, gives him a purpose, but also gets him into trouble. The landlord complains to his single mom about all of the cats hanging around, and she takes her anger out on him. The cats are always hungry, so Kit has to start stealing food in order to feed them and makes two friends, both of whom come with their own baggage. Jess, a manga-loving girl with girlfriend potential, draws Kit as a superhero named Katman but seems unsure of her own identity. And Mrs. Miller, the “crazy cat lady” of the neighborhood, works with Kit to help take care of the strays. The actions of these characters will make thoughtful readers reexamine their ideas about friendship, loyalty, and heroism. The artwork, which begins in shades of gray, moves on to browns and reds as the story progresses, becoming more vibrant as Kit grows as a person and becomes more like the hero Jess thinks he can be.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805082852
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

KEVIN C. PYLE is the author and illustrator of Blindspot, and his work has appeared in The Village Voice, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. He lives in New Jersey.

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