Sparks! (Sparks! #1)

by Ian Boothby (Author) Nina Matsumoto (Illustrator)

Sparks! (Sparks! #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Sparks!

Sparks is a hero and man's best friend, but nobody suspects he's two cats!

This Super Dog is the Cat's Meow! August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn't afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day. They also happen to be cats who pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit! Always eager to leap into danger, this feline duo have their work cut out for them as they try to thwart Princess, an evil alien bent on enslaving mankind. Don't let the fact that Princess looks like a cute, diaper-wearing baby fool you. She's clever, determined, and totally ruthless. So when Princess and the browbeaten fools she calls servants enact a brilliant and dastardly plan to conquer Earth, August and Charlie pull out all the stops to save the day.

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Ideal for elementary-school readers, this is a natural choice for anyone who loved Dav Pilkey's Dog Man series or Drew Brockington's Catstronauts books.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5-Two cats moonlight as a mechanical superhero dog named Sparks in this goofy sci-fi graphic novel. Charlie, the pilot, is a fearless outdoor cat. August, the inventor, is a cat who's terrified to go outside after a traumatic past in a laboratory. In the guise of Sparks, Charlie, and August accomplish such feats as rescuing a baby from a well and extinguishing a burning building with pee. But the intrepid canine always disappears afterward so that no one will know Sparks's true identity. When an alien named Princess-disguised as a human baby-arrives on Earth to test out a device that can control all the animals on the planet, Charlie and August (and Sparks, of course) have their heroic work cut out for them. But once they are separated by a tricky double agent, can August dare to step outside and save the day? Divided into 11 chapters, the art is full color, with large panels that are easy to follow. The bold, simple character design allows for exaggerated, hilarious facial expressions. The walking, talking litter box is a shining star of a character, providing occasional dance parties and limitless potty humor. Though most of the plot focuses on animal or alien characters, there is a welcome diversity of supporting human characters. Cat and dog lovers alike will laugh their way to the end of this offering. VERDICT Recommended for all children's comics collections.

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Sparks:

Winner, Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize, 2019

Winner, Hackmatack Children's Choice Award (Atlantic Canada), 2019

Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Starred Selection, 2018

Commended, Resource Links, Best of the Year, 2018

Commended, OLA Best Bets, 2018

Tightly spaced panels and frenetic motion lines keep the tension high and the pace quick, and the plethora of onomatopoeia give a dramatic and amusing comic-book feel. Back off, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin; Sparks is on the scene and ready for action. — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Ian Boothby
Nina Matsumoto is a Japanese Canadian who grew up drawing mostly animals, then mostly people, then back to animals again for this book. She penciled Simpsons Comics for 10 years, and currently designs video game merchandise and apparel for Fangamer. She created her own English manga series, Yokaiden, and drew The Last Airbender Prequel: Zuko's Story. In 2009, she won an Eisner Award with Ian Boothby, and they have been collaborating ever since. She resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, and loves watching the crows fly to their roost every evening. Visit her online at
Ian Boothby has been writing comedy for TV and radio since he was 13 and making his own comics since he was 16. Ian has written comic books for The Simpsons, Futurama, Mars Attacks, Scooby-Doo, The Powerpuff Girls, and The Flash. Ian has also won an Eisner Award for Best Short Story along with the artist Nina Matsumoto. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
February 27, 2018
BISAC categories
JUV002050 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Cats
JUV001000 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
JUV008040 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Action & Adventure
JUV008140 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Science Fiction
JUV008050 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Animals
Library of Congress categories
Extraterrestrial beings
Adventure and adventurers
Graphic novels
Science fiction comics
Comics (Graphic works)

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