A compassionate superhero tale that highlights ways to help others.

IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPER POWER...

A boy uses his superpowers to help others in Duncan’s children’s book.

After 9-year-old Mitch’s aunt Evie asks, “If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?,” he develops the ability to turn invisible and fly while leaving his physical body behind, like an astral projection. Using these powers, he witnesses a boy named Kyle steal a pencil case from a classmate. He soon finds out that Kyle stole it as a gift for his sad sister, and that his family lives in a shelter, on the run from his abusive father. Mitch befriends the troubled boy, and Mitch’s family grows close to Kyle’s mom and sister, as well. Although Kyle still faces challenges—he’s often absent from school, thinks about running away, and has dyslexia—his new friendship makes him feel more comfortable. Mitch continues to use his powers, keeping them hidden from everyone except Aunt Evie, who reveals that superpowers are a family trait (she communicated with animals at his age) that he’ll eventually outgrow. He notes that “maybe other kids needed help, too,” including a boy named Kenny, who’s orphaned and living with an ill-equipped uncle. As Mitch’s powers wane, he channels energy into his friendships, reading books, crafting stories, volunteering at a dog rescue, and other activities. Although Mitch’s circumstance is fantastical, it serves as a fine metaphor for how everyone can all use their unique abilities in order to help others in need. Duncan presents several portrayals of empathy and kindness that readers will find uplifting. The author also nicely models caring friendships and tight family bonds; the sense of solidarity between Aunt Evie and Mitch, for example, is particularly heartening. Although the tale is told mainly from Mitch’s viewpoint, it’s interspersed with italicized segments that effectively provide flashes of backstory and insight from others’ perspectives, including Kyle and Kenny. Bender’s colorful illustrations of various characters and events appear throughout; the chapter headings, in particular, seem to cleverly draw inspiration from comic books, with their bold black text and bright yellow shapes.

A compassionate superhero tale that highlights ways to help others.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-52-558598-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2021

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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