Miss Annie, the intrepid kitten of Miss Annie: Freedom, is back in a second adventure. After her cautious foray into the outside world during the day, she’s ready for a real adventure; outside at night. She has her own cat door and she can come and go as she pleases. With her new and experienced friends Zeno and Miss Rostropovna, she is excited about the wonders and delights of the night…or is she? Miss Annie’s thoughts about hunting birds, “We get enough to eat. Why should we hurt innocent little birds?” are too philosophical for the older cats who tell her “Nothing alive is innocent.” She’s confused by the courting cats that she thinks are silly but she’s content to wait for something more interesting to happen. Unfortunately, the next interesting thing that happens is a lot of naughty behavior that gets her just what she thinks she wants, locked outside for the night. There’s a scary and dangerous cat fight and in the end old Zeno is dead. But Miss Annie finds a special friend for her mouse friend Keshia and names him Zeno and after some talk with Miss Rostropovna she accepts that her world continues. There are mouse babies – and a hint of a new human baby too.
This second story alternates between the cats at night, as they search for danger and excitement and Miss Annie’s misadventures during the day. The dark panels showing night action are in sharp contrast to the generous speech bubbles and the cats are mysterious and even frightening at night as they face danger and death. Their eyes glow against the dark blues and blacks of the panels and light lines show movement and sound as they prowl the roofs at night. The daytime scenes are as delightfully catty as the previous story, showing a mischievous, sulking, and guilty Miss Annie as she gets into one mess after another. Throughout the story, Miss Annie subtly grows until in the final panels she’s a full-grown cat, happy and content with her small world and purring with pleasure.
This second volume is more philosophical than the first, as Miss Annie and her friends talk about innocence, what they want out of life, danger, and ultimately death. The thoughts of the cats are human, but still catlike “It’s not always wise to live your life too carefully. But remember that he died defending his territory, like a true cat.” Miss Annie tells her new mouse friend that his name is Zeno “But remember not to be TOO wise or TOO careful.” Miss Annie is naïve and innocent, but learns some painful lessons on her night out.
There are some scratches and blood during the cat fight, the death of Zeno, and oblique references to courtship, kittens, and mouse babies. Overly sensitive children (and parents) might find some aspects of the story upsetting, but those who enjoyed the gentle humor and philosophy of the first title will want to read this second story and there are many good points to spark discussions between children and parents or teachers. Children who want lighter cat stories will prefer Ashley Spires’ Binky or Konami Kanata’s Chi’s Sweet Home, but there’s plenty of action and humor in addition to the more philosophical moments to attract most elementary readers to this series.
Miss Annie: Rooftop Cat
by Frank Le Gall
Art by Flore Balthazar, Robin Doo
Lerner Graphic Universe, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: 7-10