Written by Abby Denson with art by Utomaru, Kitty Sweet Tooth is a delightful graphic novel for elementary age readers. Originally a character in Denson’s Cool Tokyo Guide and Cool Japan Guide, Kitty Sweet Tooth is an extremely adorable purple cat with…. you guessed it, a very big sweet tooth and a love of movies.
When Kitty Sweet Tooth learns Pop-Pop’s theater, The Wonder Palace, isn’t getting the audience it used to, she puts together a plan to make it the most popular spot in town once again. In her quest to save The Wonder Palace, Kitty recruits Dr. Battina Redwing, the mysterious but misunderstood scientist who lives on a mountain, and Walter Witch, Dr. Battina’s magical friend.
Together, these three create several movie/snack collaborations sure to fill the seats of the theater, including my personal favorite: Invasion of the Hungry Plant Monster with blooming tea and scones. Of course, these combinations always get a bit out of control as Dr. Battina’s science and Walter’s magic work together too well. But even with those mishaps, Kitty’s plan works! The theater is busier than ever, with the seats filled with happy town residents, and Pop-Pop is over the moon with their success. The story ends with a tease of Kitty’s next adventure: making her own film to screen at The Wonder Palace, leaving the door open for a sequel and more Kitty stories.
The book also includes a detailed, step-by-step recipe from Walter and Dr. Battina’s Magical Kitchen of Wonder for rock candy, both a science experiment and a snack. Who doesn’t love a graphic novel with a built-in activity at the end?
Readers will devour the hypercolored world of Kitty and her town. There are several two page spreads full of details of the different buildings in the story. I found myself pouring over these pages, looking for all the clever details and puns Utomaru sprinkled into her work. The colors are so vibrant; the art pops out at you no matter which format you’re viewing it in. The thick lines of the characters bring them to life against the vibrant backgrounds. I found myself lingering on pages long after I read them, trying to take every detail in.
It will be easy to put this one into the hands of readers looking for something exciting that will keep them enchanted throughout, thanks to the perfect combination of story and art. If you have readers who’ve loved easy reading graphic novels like Narwhal and Jelly or The Noodleheads but are not quite ready for one of the more middle grade geared graphic novels, they might just find their next favorite in Kitty Sweet Tooth. Some readers will be turned off by the tweeness, but those who aren’t will be rewarded with a cute, silly tale of teamwork and friendship.
Kitty Sweet Tooth is like the many sugary treats shown throughout the story—you want to eat it right up. I certainly did! I recommend it for all classrooms and libraries with young graphic novel readers looking for new charming characters and lots of fun.
Kitty Sweet Tooth
By Abby Denson
Art by Utomaru
First Second, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 6-10
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)