What good is a cape when you have no superpowers?
Esteban loves his long green cape. Whether he’s out shopping at the market with his mom and little sister, at the doctor’s office, or climbing into bed, the would-be superhero is always wearing his cape. “But there is one problem: his cape cannot do ANYTHING.” Esteban can’t fly with it or use it for magic tricks. Fed up, he even tries to sell the cape, but nobody buys it. One day at the park Esteban spots an abandoned baby doll on the playground. When a rainstorm unexpectedly rolls in, threatening to drench the deserted toy, he knows just what to do. “ ‘Don’t worry, baby!’ he says. ‘I’ll save you!’ ” Though the occasionally stilted text might pull some readers out of the story, Mercado-López (a professor of women’s studies at Fresno State) freshens an at-first familiar narrative with an unexpected resolution. Determined to protect the doll, Esteban uses his cape to care for it and keep it clean, a rejection of both superhero stereotype and gender norms that is unquestioned in his loving Latino family. DeLange’s colorful, flat illustrations vary very little in energy, barely stirring beyond pleasant. (Esteban and his family are all featured with light brown skin.) Both English text and Baeza Ventura’s Spanish translation reside on the left-hand pages, while the illustrations take up the right-hand pages.
A serviceable outing for an unusual young hero. (Picture book. 5-8)