Although this approach has been used before, rarely has it been executed with such hilarious results.

SEND FOR A SUPERHERO!

An over-the-top comic-book adventure within a bedtime story aims for laughs.

Veteran children’s-book writer Rosen (Aesop’s Fables, 2013, etc.) proves he knows what kids like and what they are like. The story begins as Dad reads a comic book to “Emily and little Elmer” at bedtime: Filth and Vacuum are on their way to Earth to take over the world. Within the comic book, savvy schoolboy Brad 40 tries to warn Miss Nice and Class Perfect. In the frame, Elmer gets excited by the story, and Emily becomes impatient with his interruptions. Back in the story, Brad 40 alerts Mayor Troubleshoot of the dreaded duo’s approach, and the Mayor mobilizes the heroes. Unfortunately, neither Steel Man, Super-Flying-Through-The-Air-Very-Fast-Man nor Incredibly-Big-Strong-Green Man can fend off Filth and Vacuum. Brad 40 calls on Extremely Boring Man to come to the rescue. With his gray-on-gray outfit and seemingly endless monologue about selecting what to wear, he has a slumberous effect on everyone, including Filth and Vacuum—and Elmer and Emily (as if, Dad!). McEwan alters the style of illustration and palette to cue the back and forth between the stories. The comic adventure is laid out in frames with urgent declarations and sound effects, with a printed-on-newsprint effect, whereas the scenes with Elmer and Emily are often on full-bleed pages and pulse with saturated colors.

Although this approach has been used before, rarely has it been executed with such hilarious results. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6438-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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