cover image Max


Bob Graham. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1138-5

What's a family of superheroes to do when their progeny is slow to develop his flying skills? Graham (Benny; Queenie) introduces just this dilemma in his sweetly silly picture book about discovering one's specialness. Caped crime fighters Captain Lightning and Madam Thunderbolt can't wait for their young son Max to accompany them on their daring, do-good missions. But although he wears his tights, mask and cape well, Max hasn't mastered the superhero flight patterns. Enthusiastic coaching and coaxing from his parents and grandparents don't help. Neither does teasing from the kids at school (""Why don't you do tough things like your mom and dad?""). But when a helpless baby bird needs rescuing, Max's superhero genes suddenly kick into gear. Themes of patience, acceptance and self-confidence get a lift in this humorous tale with a satisfying resolution. The superhero home life that unfolds via Graham's chipper ink-and-watercolor artwork, in cartoon-like panels as well as full spreads, is particularly entertaining. Scenes of Captain Lightning shaving and getting dressed, and Grandma and Grandad (in superhero garb) relaxing on lawn chairs in front of the family's lightning-bolt-shaped house are laugh-out-loud funny. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)