Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Superdog: The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Bu

Superdog: The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner

Rating: 4.5 stars

All right, let the superhero book reviews begin!

Who doesn't love an underdog?  Especially when the underdog is a little sausage of a dog who receives ridicule from dogs and cats alike.  But Dex longs to be more than the butt of jokes.  He wants to be a superhero so badly that he decides to MAKE IT HAPPEN.  That's my kind of thinking.  With a lot of hard work building his muscles and one well-fitting superdog costume, he becomes what he wants to be: Superdog.

While his friends continue to chuckle he finds heaps of ways to help: he finds a lost kitten, tracks down a lost wallet, tackles a purse-snatcher, and fixes his neighbor's sprinkler.

But when his arch nemesis Cleevis (of course it's a cat who is just evil enough not to like) gets stuck in a tree and needs rescuing, Superdog doesn't think twice.  He charges over to Cleevis the cat, has his friends jump on the opposite side of the teeter totter to catapult him into the air, and makes his cape into a parachute so that Cleevis can land gently rather than with a thud.

And then Cleevis the cat asks if he can be his partner.  Dex says yes again, and the last picture is of them romping off together.

A note on the illustrations: If you don't smile at the cover, you are either completely humorless or having a really bad day.  An awkward dachshund dog hovering over the sidewalk, looking fierce and funny...makes me crack a smile and I've looked at it a dozen times already.  The pictures poke fun at little Dex but you like him too much to laugh at him--Mark Buehner did a great job.

What I love most about this story is that there was no magic anything to make Superdog a superhero.  He didn't eat, find, or fall into something.  Nope, he CHOSE to be a superhero.  He knew what he wanted and earned it through canine blood, sweat, and tears.  It was great to point this out to my kids, showing them the difference of happening upon some skill/power (which still would require responsibility to use it wisely) versus putting your mind to it and achieving that goal.  Such an important lesson; one that I believe should be taught from early in the preschool years.

This book is not as good as Max but it is definitely in the same realm of quality, nonviolent superhero books. There aren't too many, so...better grab this one, too, if your kids are into capes and emblems.

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