Sunday, June 22, 2014

Superhero Joe by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman

Superhero Joe by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, illustrated by Ron Barrett

Rating: 5 stars

Sometimes the timing of boy meets book is laughably, wonderfully perfect.

Take yesterday, when Superhero Joe rested on the new book shelf waiting to catch our eye.  Superhero Joe soon found its way to our crowded library book bag.

This meeting happened just four days after the boys and I attended my nephew/their cousin's Superhero Birthday Party. Just three days after they walked in with me to the dry cleaners wearing capes and masks. Just two days after they got their superhero water shooters taken away from them for fighting with them (call me Super Fun Spoiler if you like).

I can't resist a quick word on the party: No one throws a party like my sister.  She throws so much time and love and creativity into each of her four kids' birthday parties…it leaves me inspired and in awe.  Whatever they want, she makes happen.  All homemade crafts, all from-scratch cakes, all house-run activities. For this Superhero Party, kids got issued capes, masks, and a squirt gun upon entrance (oh happy day!).  They chose a superhero name.  They counted down the minutes until they could bust through to the roped-off area to get to the obstacle course my sister and her husband had created in the backyard.

Here's a glimpse of Ben flying through the air--well, running quickly--in his cape and with his mask:

So when we saw Superhero Joe yesterday, we had superheroes on the brain.  We had to grab the book!

Joe is a normal kid who happens to have a wonderfully abnormal imagination. His real-life superpower is a lens through which he sees normal happenings as fantastical events.  Take a spill in the kitchen.  That's what you or I would see.  Not Joe.  He sees "an evil black ooze...threatening to take over the world." His mother needs the "staff of power." (Known to less imaginative Muggles as a mop.)
He was afraid of many things…
Something had to change.

He needs to travel to the "Darkest Depths" (a basement as messy as ours but with fewer lights) to retrieve it.  In order to have the courage required for such a journey, he needs some of his superhero accoutrements.  As he finds these things, he tells the readers how he didn't used to be so brave but now he is because of these key accessories.  Armed with these items, he transforms from just Joe to SUPERHERO JOE!

Even I am thinking of trading in my Kate Spade bag for a Shield of Invincibility!

This is a great, fun story with bright, pop-off-the-page comic book-style illustrations by Ron Barrett.  If you've got a kid who has superhero on the brain (or whose imagination needs a kickstart), definitely grab this book and let it sit around…there's no way any kid could walk by this book and resist the urge to pick it up and read it.

Lastly, there are surprisingly few superhero picture books out there.  This is a wonderful addition to the short list, but my heart still holds out that the best among them is Max by Bob Graham.  For all the superhero books I've reviewed, please click HERE.

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