Scarlett: A Star on the Run, by Susan Schade and Jon Buller

Scarlett: A Star on the Run, by Susan Schade and Jon Buller (Papercutz, November 2015), is a graphic novel/text story hybrid of great charm, that I have been meaning to write about for ages (I got a copy at last fall's Kidlitcon down in Baltimore courtesy of the publisher, and enjoyed it very much).

Scarlett is a cat who is a movie star.  Her success on the big screen is not just because she's a good actress, but is the result of experimental animal tinkering.  She and her co-star animals can talk, and think, and be bored by reality tv shows.  They are also prisoners, shut up every night.  But one cold snowy evening a window blows open, and Scarlett heads out to explore for the first time.  Fortunately for Scarlett, before she freezes to death she finds shelter in the cabin of a grumpy old man.   And there she makes a new home for herself.  Soon she's joined by one of her co-stars, a friendly dog, and together they enjoy being just ordinary folks.

But the movie producer, who engineered Scarlett and co., of course wants them back.  And another co-star, the dog who plays the villains in the movies, shows up and makes things unpleasant. And on top of that, the old man falls ill, and it's up to Scarlett to keep up the appearance that everything is just fine in his shack so that no one bothers them.  That means using his credit cards to pay the grocery bills, and Scarlett, being a fastidious cat, takes it upon herself to clean and refurbish the whole house.

But fortunately an ally is close at hand. Erin, the girl next door, has been observing the animals, and figures out their secrets.  She's able to help them find a happy ending, where they no longer are hunted fugitives worried about being dragged back to a movie-production prison....

It's a charming story, and I enjoyed it lots (quite possibly because one of my own favorite things to read about is old houses being cleaned out and fixed up, and seeing a cat and a dog working together to do so was very entertaining).  The art is charming too, as is the relationship that builds between the animals and the grumpy man.

Part of the story is told in graphic novel panels, and a somewhat larger part is straight narrative from Scarlett's point of view.  As a result, I think this is one that would be great for an adult to read alongside an emergent reader child--the child could read the short bits of text in the graphic panels, and the adult could tackle that smaller fonted narration, which is not aimed particularly at young readers.  That makes it also good for middle grade and up readers (especially animal lovers), who enjoy fun graphic heavy stories to read on their own!

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