cover image The Masked Maverick

The Masked Maverick

Jacqueline K. Ogburn. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-11049-9

The cartoonish competitors of professional wrestling may well attract some kids, but that interest alone hardly guarantees that young readers will warm to the flabby and pasty-complected hero of this inexpert effort. And perhaps they shouldn't. Although the Masked Maverick is presented as an underdog because he's booed by the crowds at his matches, he invariably and viciously trounces his opponents. His efforts to gain audience sympathy don't work: He hands a flower to one challenger, following it up with ``a flying drop kick''; he enters the ring in a silly costume of pink hearts, then slams his giggling foe ``onto his head in a perfect piledriver.'' Only when the Maverick's disguise is ripped off by the villainous Brooklyn Bonecrusher--and M.M. flies into a rage to defeat B.B.--does the audience cheer. Never does the Maverick understand why his allegedly kind gestures failed, and Ogburn's ``be yourself'' message comes off as ``might makes right'' instead. Readers untroubled by the violence will find a hint of sleaze in descriptions of the Maverick's black leather and red silk headwear; neither is there much to recommend Carlson's ( I Like Me! ) willy-nilly illustrations. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)