Send for a Superhero!
Michael Rosen, illus. by Katharine McEwen. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6438-1
Former British Children’s Laureate Rosen skewers comic-book conventions in this story-within-a-story. With siblings Emily and Elmer cozied up on either side of him, Dad reads them the very book readers are holding in their hands. McEwen’s (I Love You, Little Monkey) mixed-media illustrations shift from soft, homey scenes into energetic comic-book storytelling mode as the family becomes immersed in the story of two villains—Filth, a one-eyed green blob, and Vacuum, a money-stealing vacuum cleaner—who are terrorizing the town of Townton. Lots of sounds effects (“schweee” “skloosh”) and maniacal laughter ensue as three superheroes are called in to save the day. The would-be heroes—Steel Man, Super-Flying-Through-the-Air-Very-Fast Man, and Incredibly-Big-Strong-Green Man—are basically low-rent cousins to Iron Man, Superman, and the Hulk, and where they fail, a secret agent/schoolboy’s suggestion succeeds. The over-the-top superhero drama and pratfall-laden clashes slyly send up familiar comic book tropes, while the mid-story interruptions and diversions involving Emily and Elmer showcase a homey family dynamic that many readers will recognize. Ages 3–7. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014