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SUPERHERO MAX by Lawrence David


by Lawrence David & illustrated by Tara Calahan King

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-32746-3
Publisher: Doubleday

What to do when you haven’t found any friends at your new school and it’s already (gasp!) October? Second-grader Max Pilner thinks he has the answer in David’s (When Second Graders Attack, p. 565, etc.) latest offering. King’s (Enemy Pie, 2000, etc.) vibrant illustrations—which depict Max and his classmates with oversized heads, skinny necks, and wide-set reptilian eyes—are appropriately offbeat, perfect for portraying Max as he makes his transformation into Captain Crusader for the Halloween costume contest at school. “I have many powers. I fight villains and save animals and people from calamitous disasters,” Max tells his classmates, who are dressed as the standard issue cat, witch, and firefighter. Forget about being a superhero—Max’s confident alter ego renders him a super star, and everyone wants to play with him. He even wins the costume contest. But David’s tightly woven text soon reveals a new thread. Max, flush with success, continues to dress up. “That costume’s dirty,” says one child. “Why can’t you be a beetle?” asks another who’s involved in a game of Giant Bug Attack. The rejection is too much for Max; King’s (Enemy Pie, 2000, etc.) full-bleed illustration shows the boy, in tattered costume, wreaking havoc on the playground. In a vignette, opposite, his teacher phones home. Any reader who has ever felt left out will sympathize with poor Max’s predicament. But it’s his unwavering determination and quick thinking that’s inspiring; with his father’s gentle insistence, Max goes to school sans costume and ends up making friends the old-fashioned way—by just being himself. (Picture book. 5-8)