Books: Bad Kitty

>> Sunday, April 16, 2006

I'm going to be speaking and signing books at the Bluegrass Festival of Books in Lexington on April 29th. I'm on a panel with Lauren Myracle (TTYL, TTFN), Ned Vizzini (Be More Chill), Philip Beard (Dear Zoe), and Michele Jaffe (Bad Kitty), all of whom are already very successful YA authors. I'm definitely feeling like the fifth wheel here!

In preparation for the festival, I'm trying to read a book by each author, although I may not make it. (I got a late start, and I keep picking up new books and starting them when I should be reading from my stack instead.) But I've got one down - Michele Jaffe's entertaining Bad Kitty.

Think Scooby-Doo Mysteries with hip fashionista teenagers instead of gangly pot-heads, or maybe CSI meets the O.C., and you're part of the way toward grokking Bad Kitty. Our hero Jasmine attracts trouble like cats to catnip. An otherwise innocent family vacation in Las Vegas turns pulp noir for Jasmine when a three-legged cat jumps her beside the pool, sending her screaming into someone's wedding - and their wedding cake. The cat belongs to a tearful eight-year-old boy who says someone is after him, and Jasmine is too much of a snoop to let things go.

Just when it looks like Jas is in over her head, her gang of colorful friends arrives to "rescue" her, bearing such useful items as cowboy boots with hidden pockets for emergency lip gloss and cheap perfume/mace, and a crafty fashion gizmo called the beDazzler, which applies rhinestones to any and all apparel. Like James Bond being outfitted by Q, Jasmine gets a runway detective makeover, and the kids pile in their plush pink van to bust some bad guys. Ah, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!

Bad Kitty is a fun read. This is one of those books that I read thinking, "Okay, this book was really not written for me," (me = 34-year-old, fashion-disaster dad) but I can still appreciate how much my sassy eighth-grade girls would have eaten this up when I was teaching. They would have loved the chatty, pointless conversations included as constant footnotes throughout the book (which I admit I started to skip by the end), and I'm sure the cliffhanger chapter endings would have kept them turning the page, despite my disappointment that they were often fake-outs. This is a book that has teenage girls clearly in its sights, and shoots to thrill.


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