cover image Joshua Dread

Joshua Dread

Lee Bacon, illus. by Brandon Dorman. Delacorte, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-74185-9

In this lively romp from newcomer Bacon, sixth-grader Joshua Dread is contending with the knowledge that his parents are secretly supervillains who periodically try to take over and/or destroy the world, only to inevitably be beaten down by heroes like the telegenic, endorsement-happy Captain Justice. Just as Joshua's own power of spontaneous combustion emerges, he faced with a worse problem: weird smoke creatures are kidnapping supervillains, and his parents are the latest to vanish. Now Joshua must save the worst villains on the planet, and his only allies are his best friend, Milton, and Sophie, a new girl with secrets of her own. Despite predictable moments, Bacon's deadpan narrative hums along with outrageous details, humor, and action and is complemented by Dorman's suitably heroic b&w portraits of the characters. A hero with a double life and a colossal set of parental issues, Joshua handles zombies, killer robots, and teenage girls without losing his cool. Bacon's affectionately playful take on the superhero genre introduces bombastic personalities without reducing the characters to caricatures. Ages 9%E2%80%9312. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (Sept.)