When I was tracking down Ashley Spires' children's graphic novel Binky the Space Cat, it suddenly occurred to me that all of those fantastic reviews I'd read were online. I grew nervous. It's not like the Internet folks are unbiased where cats are concerned.
Don't get me wrong. I like cats. I have a cat in fact. (He's on my shoulder right now.) But I've never considered myself a "cat person." I don't know if that's akin to hipsters who make fun of others for being hipsters or not, but I wasn't sure if this wasn't a case of cat fanatics being just a bit overzealous in their praise.
However, now that I have the book, I can honestly say it's delightful. Cat lover or not, it's funny, charming and if Binky's quirky, inquisitive and determined personality doesn't win most of his readers over, I'd be shocked. It's a great introduction for kids to the world of graphic novels and let's face it, quality, appropriate examples aimed at this age group (the publishers at Kids Can Press list it at ages 7-10) are few and far between.
I think what makes Binky so interesting and charming is how his innocence never gets in the way of his determination. As he plans to venture into "outer space" (outside), he starts himself on a vigorous training routine. He has his rare moments of doubt, but when he thinks of how "his" humans need his protection, he gets over his fears in a hurry.
The artwork is stellar. You may have your doubts. After seeing the cover you might ask yourself, "is that supposed to be a cat?" (When I'm not wearing my glasses, he looks like a moose footprint.) But when you see the other cats in the book, it's clear that Binky is just highly stylized. The scenery and grey shading are also quite well done.
I'd definitely read the others in the series, even if I'm not in the target demographic and I'm not really a cat-person. Really I'm not. I'm just a... cat appreciator.