cover image How to Be a Hero

How to Be a Hero

Florence Parry Heide, illus. by Chuck Groenink. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-2710-1

Heide is as incisively funny and slyly chatty as ever in this posthumously published story of a cape-clad boy named Gideon, who wants to be a hero: “You know, a hero, with his name on the front page of a newspaper. That sort of thing.” The more he studies the literature (aka fairy tales), the more he realizes that most heroes are simply “at the right place at the right time.” Take the story about “this kid finding some seeds or beans or something like that and they grow up to be a great big vine and he climbs up and finds some neat things.” (Heide’s half-remembered recaps of classic fairy tales are among the book’s finest and funniest moments.) Gideon’s revelation manifests at the grocery store in a wonderful bit of misdirection that grants him his wish and reveals actual heroism taking place in the background, blithely unnoticed by him. Working in the warm, rich hues of once upon a time, Groenink (Rufus the Writer) nimbly shifts between suburban ordinary and fairy tale extraordinary while vividly portraying Gideon as a self-possessed kid with an eye for the main chance. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)