A young superhero falls prey to a Samson complex.
Young narrator Rocco, with his frothy mass of curls, is a comic-book fan and, of course, the superhero of his own stories—along with three equally long-haired sidekicks. But when he is hauled off to a scissors-wielding, nearly bald barber, he’s afraid that his superpowers have been compromised. Will a viny plant or maybe a mop head restore them? But his friends all sport new, short haircuts, too, and all the boys feel quite weak until a younger girl needs help: superheroes to the rescue. Artist Rocco’s children are cheerfully compact and kinetic. In a just-right nod to comic-book conventions, the trip to the barber and subsequent illustrations of the boys without superpowers are rendered in grayscale, while the superhero moments take place in colorful, warm hues on a background of comic-book–like Ben-Day dots. Little Rocco’s powers, and those of his friends, don’t exceed reality: jumping homemade ramps on a bike—check; flying by skateboard over (toy) cars and trains—check; leaping from a tall stepladder into a baby pool—uh, no, as the child’s look of dismay indicates. The little girl who creates an occasion for the boys to return to their superhero roles has a wise look of her own—superpowers of observation, perhaps—and may well end up as a sidekick herself.
This won’t answer those many preschool requests for superhero stories, but it does offer a go-with-the-flow bit of imaginative silliness. (Picture book. 3-6)