middle-grade book series

Middle-Grade Book Series: Curiosity of a Cat Book Review

Simon, Catt, and their classmates return for a new assignment at Superhero School: Skydiving!

The only problem is, cats don’t fly! As much as she hates to disappoint Simon, Catt wants nothing to do with planes or jumping out of them. But when Simon’s parachute won’t open, Catt must swallow her fears to save her falling friend.

Landing in a wild jungle, far from school and home, the cat-and-mouse duo uncover a secret prison of animal hostages. Morgan Banana and his monkey thugs use the remote jungle to carry out their diabolical scheme in the dark: to smuggle live cargo to human zoos .

Can Catt and Simon stick with the school assignment and return to Sweet Meadows, or will curiosity drag them into a crazy rescue mission?

Join the Superhero School class for another exciting adventure—With the Curiosity of a Cat, Book Two in the Superhero School series.

middle-grade book series

The middle-grade book series, The Superhero School Series by Donna Sager Cowan is about Catt, the cat, and a mouse named Simon Cheddar. This book follows Catt and Simon as they learn how to be friends and Superheroes! 

In book two of The Superhero School Series, Catt, Simon, and their classmates have a new school assignment: Skydiving!

However, Catt does NOT want to skydive. She wants nothing to do with planes or having to jump out of them. But when Simon’s parachute doesn’t open, Catt must put her fears aside to save her friend.

Catt and Simon land in a wild jungle where they find a secret prison of animal hostages. Book two of The Superhero School Series follows Catt and Simon as they go on a crazy rescue mission to help the animals hostages.

With the Curiosity of a Cat (the Superhero School series Book 2) written by Donna Sager Cowan and wonderfully illustrated by Diane J. Reid is a book that is sure to entertain middle-grade readers.

Donna Sager Cowan does an exceptional job of bringing the characters to life in her book. She also includes important life lessons about loyalty, friendship, bravery, and heroism. 

Donna Sager Cowan’s middle-grade novel, With the Courage of a Mouse (The Superhero School Book 1), will make an excellent addition to an early chapter book library. Young readers will enjoy following Simon Cheddar and Catt the Cat on their awesome, fun-filled adventures. 

Where Can I Find "With the Curiosity of a Cat (the Superhero School series Book 2)?"

You can find With the Curiosity of a Cat (the Superhero School series Book 2) by Donna Sager Cowan on Amazon.

The Superhero School Series by Donna Sager Cowan

Find out about these books HERE.

Quotes from Book 1

“Mice wear courage like an old shirt—worn and comfortable—because it’s all they’ve ever know.”~Simon Cheddar

“Choices make heroes, not powers.”~Simon Cheddar

“This was a story he would tell his grandchildren: how he escaped…using his wits.”~ Ricky Rant

“It’s dangerous out there and bad things happen to lost cats.”~Simon Cheddar

“She wasn’t worthless! No matter how many times they said it, she wouldn’t believe it.”~Catt the cat

“Sadly, most of you won’t…reach your true potential.”~Superhero School Teacher, Day One

“Now Catt, you belong to me.”~Mrs. Gristle

“Warn a guy, would ya! I’ve got a reputation and it don’t include hugging.”~Simon Cheddar

“Catt, you’re a cat, …it’s natural for you to chase mice…but maybe you should meet my family, just to be safe.”~Simon Cheddar

Nigel grimaced and raised one scrawny paw to wipe away the cream streaking his dour face. He spoke slowly and firmly, as though Catt were a child. “I can only presume there’s a fire somewhere nearby.”

“Simon, what are we going to do?”~Grandma Whisker
quotes from book two

“…We’ve been watching their every move. Nothing. One day the cages are full, then the next they’re empty. …Like magic––POOF! Gone.” ~Penelope the porcupine

Simon was a terrible superhero partner, taking Catt’s trust and friendship for granted was selfish. He could learn to compromise—starting right now.

Freddy leaped onto the desk, grabbing Patty’s hoof while flicking Ricky’s toothpick into the trash can. “Come on, Fred, my man. Why’d you do that? I just broken that on in!” ~Ricky Rent, street rat

“I’m worried this might be too dangerous for us.” ~ Patty Porter, the pig

“Humans were shopping for pets in our world? Not if he had anything to say about it!” ~ Sergeant Jones, the giraffe police detective

Following the mice’s lead, the birds created a white rain of their own, bombing with amazing accuracy. Ricky made a mental note not to ever make loaded bird mad.

“Hold on, Penelope! I’m coming to save you.” ~Ricky Rent, street rat

“if you can’t play fair, level the playing field” Grandma’s advice finally made sense to Simon. “Would they recognize a fake official? Probably not soon enough!” ~Simon Cheddar, a mouse

“How could a simple enterprise turn into horse apples overnight? It was those mice!” ~Morgan Banana, head of the Banana Brother Industry, chief monkey in charge of operations.

“We need four fresh fish first, now!” ~ Catt the cat

She imagine being the one to make those things happen, and she almost did. But except for horseshoes, almost was second best. Catt was always second best. No one cared that she almost won, or how hard she tried. ~Catt the cat

“Friends aren’t toys you can throw aside then expect to be right there when you return.” ~Catt the cat

middle-grade book series

About the Author, Donna Sager Cowan

middle-grade book series author“As the youngest child in a large family, Donna felt lost in the crowd. She entertained herself by making up stories and friends to play with. By age 5, Donna had taught herself to read, and that began her imaginative journey to dreamy castles with princes and fairy godmothers. Donna is a grandmother, random fact-finder, and encourager. And, yes, she believes she’s a superhero. She lives in California with her family and four cats. (Sadly, no mice like Simon.)”

Rapid Fire with Donna Sager Cowan

Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Donna: I began writing at an early age–even before I could officially write the words. Taking characters from my favorite books and creating/acting out new adventures for them. My mom talked about my vivid imagination at such a young age, being able to change the stories into something unexpected. One example she used was when I changed Cinderella to a secretary with an evil-boss instead of step-mother. I like to think I was just curious to see how the characters would act if they lived inside my world.

Q. What does your family think of your writing?

Donna: The response and reactions have been interesting. While the support has been overwhelming, I think they don’t quite know what to think. My husband supports me but still doesn’t appreciate my character’s dilemmas holding up dinner. My mother was my greatest supporter until she passed, but I still find inspiration in everything she said. My grands are my greatest source of cheerleaders. I am inspired by them daily. 

These books and series are my love letter to them, acknowledging their challenges in growing up in a way that honors my love for reading, storytelling, and writing. Some are surprised by my quirky imagination, that I can be funny in print, and that I would pursue a new career at my age. It has been as eye-opening and diverse as my writing journey.

Q. What was the most surprising thing you learned about creating books?

Donna: Wow. Answering this question could fill several books. But to keep it short, I’d have to say the most surprising was how many students struggle to read at grade level or to have access to books for their age and reading level. It’s important to focus on the needs of my readers, so I purposely choose animals for the main characters. 

This way, I can offer a story where kids don’t see culture, race or disparity. They can identify with the animals in their nature and personality without comparison or exclusion. Creating stories for all children is important. Creating access to all ideas and backgrounds is vital. Inspiring lifelong readers that can imagine a better world is our future. Knowledge is one thing that never expires or taken away. Even in 2020, access to books is still a struggle often ignored

Q. What do you think makes a good story?

Donna: Progress or change. While a good story is always the goal, characters within the story must show progress or change between the beginning and the end. If not, what is the point?

We share stories to teach, compare, contrast, or simplify an idea. If there isn’t growth or a lesson to be learned (even if it’s a negative result), then why would we feel compelled to read it? Most of us don’t care about the “everyday life” of a story unless it demonstrates one of these reasons.  

To tell a good story, it must compel the reader to think, consider, or invoke further discussion or knowledge. As authors, our job is to bring forth ideas and questions, and maybe possible solutions. We must always remember that introducing an idea is the beginning of the conversation, not the ending.

Q. What advice do you have for writers?

Donna: Write. Write everything you imagine. Write often and with passion. And, listen with your head, not your heart to advice and criticism. Separate the helpful items and forget the rest. Too many writers feel trapped by rules, advice, well-meaning friends or writers, and critiques. While a great deal is helpful, anything that stifles your voice, vision, or makes you feel less is toxic to your writing. Create a circle of trusted advisors to listen to, ask advice, or specific questions. Avoid open-ended questions, like “what do you think?” or “what would you change?”. 

It’s very tempting to offer your opinion instead of productive advice. This leads writers to abandon writing, give up, or become bitter toward the industry. No one knows your story better than you and can not walk the road for you. Seek help when necessary, advice when warranted, and blaze new trails with your words.

Q. What inspires you as a writer?

Donna: Life. My life is an ongoing adventure that surprises and inspires me daily. My grands also inspire me with their ever changing, expanding, challenging world. At this age, I’ve discovered many things–primarily that every answer is unique and ultimately comes from within us. Like my Superhero School students, we have all we need inside, from the beginning. It’s the journey that leads us to find or discover those truths, lessons, or ideas for ourselves. The only thing I can offer beyond that is the tools needed to make their journey easier: knowledge, courage, curiosity, passion, determination, friendship, courtesy, and kindness.

Q. Can you tell us about one of the most rewarding moments you have had as an author?

Donna: YES! In 2019, while promoting my first book, I met with homeless families learning to overcome their struggles. I met with families and kids–reading excerpts from With the Courage of a Mouse, about Catt the cat’s homelessness struggle and how it made her feel about herself. Worthless.

Later when I was signing copies, one child asked me to highlight those passages and said, “I’ve tried to explain to my friends what it feels like, but they don’t get it. I didn’t have the right words, but you did. Thank you. Now I can show them this, and they will understand.”

I was speechless. I could not imagine having such an immediate impact on any child. It was the greatest and saddest moment of my life. An enormous reward that I couldn’t imagine while writing this book. No award, review, acknowledgment, or other accolades will ever come close to the impact of that child’s request.  

When I feel down, uninspired, or not very motivated, I remember that moment and push on. Because someone desperately needs my words to make sense of what they can’t explain themselves. Reaching one child–making any difference in a life–is why I began writing children’s books in the beginning. Sometimes the smallest thing can change the world.

Q. Are you working on anything at present that you would like to share with your readers?

Donna: Yes, I’m always writing new things, but specifically, Book Three in the Superhero School series, With the Passion of a Pig, is set to release, November 10, 2020. The classmates return for another class to find their town matriarch is missing. Patty Porter, a tech-savvy pig, is on the case. After tracking Mrs. Gee to the human world, the team enter the portal between the two worlds to find Catt’s mom, and the missing animals the monkeys sold to the humans. 

Unfortunately, all their great plans change when they become children instead of animals in the real-world of California. The team has to figure out how to adapt fast, find their missing friends and family, plus solve another mystery in time to return for their next Superhero School class.

I am currently working on book four, With the Heart of a Hero; and a new spin-off series featuring Ricky Rent, Street Rat, that I hope to debut in early 2021.

Q. What do you hope readers take away from your books and series?

Donna: From the series, I hope readers realize they have a Superhero-side waiting for the moment to shine.

From With the Curiosity of a Cat, that life is a journey. We live and learn. We falter and rebound. That curiosity can lead to unexpected adventures; that friends are our greatest asset, and that home is where you find love and acceptance.

Q. What real-life inspiration did you draw from for the world-building within your books and series?

Donna: First, I will say my grands inspire me daily to reach for more. Their resilience and curiosity often spark stories. For the actual space of Sweet Meadows, I spent time writing in the open fields near my home and imagined Mouseville, Sweet Meadows, Tangled Trees, and Granite Gulch. While working on book two, a trip to the coast offered inspiration for the new Shallow Shores and Salt Water Plains. In book three, I returned to my neighborhood and school area for the location.

In all of these, I imagine a world beyond this one. A world where Catt, who’s a little scared and shy, can learn life lessons missed in the real world. A place where different is celebrated; finding strength encouraged, and the community surrounds you when in need. It’s not far from our own, and maybe closer than we realize.

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All in all, my family and I have really enjoyed this book and we know you will too! Please feel free to leave me any comments or questions about this review. I look forward to hearing from you! 

* This book was kindly sent to me by Author, Donna Sager Cowan, in exchange for an honest review. 

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