A Reader's Respite got suckered in by another cute cover, damn it. We can't help it....we're cover whores. Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl is being touted as a companion book to two previous Pinkwater books:
Although we haven't read Pinkwater's two related books, we felt fairly confident that a companion book could be read as a stand-alone. Wrong.
As it turns out, companion book is actually publisher-speak for this book has no real plot and is just skating along on some cute characters, a few lines of witty dialog and the laurels of the author's previous two books.
In other words: cute, but sucky.
There are plenty of fun little characters, including our protagonist Audrey, the title-mentioned Cat-Whiskered girl ("I do not have a problem with my appearance - I am a nice-looking girl with lovely whiskers") who comes from a different plane of existence to Poughkeepsie, New York, where she meets an insane college professor, a new friend named Molly, a wise-woman named Chicken Nancy, the giant Harold and what appears to be a horrible monster, The Wolluf.
Despite being a Young Adult/Middle Reader book, there are plenty of references only adults will understand:
Professor Tag appeared from around the corner of the building. He was wearing a woman's dress, sort of - it looked like he had made it out of a big window curtain....
"Hello, Professor," I said. "Yes, I came to see you."
"Thank you," Professor Tag said. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."
As compelling as the characters and dialog was, however, A Reader's Respite never did find a plot. At one point, it seemed the characters might be searching for aliens. There were several references to flying saucers (and their drivers, who apparently enjoy the apple fritters we serve up here on Earth), but in the end that came to nothing.
We also thought for a while that the plot might be Audrey's quest to find out about her long-lost parents, but that, too, came to nothing.
In the end, we were left with a patchwork novel....plenty of great pieces that didn't come together. Perhaps if we had read Pinkwater's previous novels (which were very well received, both critically and popularly), we would have found more enjoyment.