Monday, April 20, 2015

MMGM: Almost Super, by Marion Jensen

Me and superheroes. Don't know what it is: the whole idea is kind of stupid, if you think about it, so why do I find it so compelling? So many superhero movies are disappointing (I tried the new Netflix series Daredevil, and I like the concept, but it's very violent. I like the Flash better.) I think maybe it's because movies try to make superheroes believable and they're just not, so they end up looking silly instead of cool. (The Avengers gets around the problem by acknowledging the sillyness and moving on. "Yup, this is ridiculous. You got a problem with that? No? Good. Let me go pick up my magic hammer again.")

Maybe what I like about superheroes goes back to my Horatio Hornblower obsession: I can't resist someone who nobly puts themselves in harm's way to do the right thing. It's not the superpower itself; it's the hero's self-sacrifice and devotion to an ideal.

All that philosophizing is my lead-in to a light-hearted, entertaining middle-grade book about superheroes that gets them right.

Almost Super has a great deal of silliness. It laughs at all the clich├ęs, it's over-the-top with all its details. (I loved the spittoons everywhere in the super headquarters, because they're all required to spit whenever they mention their enemies.) Rafter and Benny Bailey get really ridiculous and utterly useless powers when they come of age in their superhero family. There's a nefarious plot behind it, of course, but are the super-villainous Johnsons behind it, or are the Bailey's long-fought enemies perhaps not so evil after all? What if it were possible for Baileys and Johnsons to cooperate with each other? It's entirely predictable but it's a fun ride, and, while the adults are all hilarious caricatures, the kids are sensitively portrayed and believable. The moral, that you don't need a superpower to be a hero, feels genuine when Rafter figures it out for himself.

This one had me laughing out loud at times and smiling at the clever absurdities. It's up there with Captain Underpants, and from me that's high comedic praise!

Chewy flavoured caramels.

This Marvelous Middle-Grade book is only one of many you can read about at Shannon Messenger's blog every Monday.

10 comments:

  1. I've been reading way too serious plots lately so I'm all in on this one. Thanks for sharing. I've added it to my TBR list.

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  2. I love superheroes, too! And humor! Thanks for the recommendation. This sounds like something my kids would love, too.

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  3. Humor is so hard to write (at least for me) that I really admire any author who does an outstanding job with it. If you're comparing this book to Captain Underpants, I know it's got to be fun.

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  4. This sounds like a lot of fun. I really enjoy Superhero plots, especially if they're funny and well done.
    Ah, and I'm so glad you mentioned Horatio--one of my favorite series!

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  5. Sounds fun! Books that make you laugh out loud are, of course, the best :). Will be looking into this one in the future!

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  6. Sounds fun! Books that make you laugh out loud are, of course, the best :). Will be looking into this one in the future!

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  7. Thanks for the recommendation! I'm going to look for it the next time I go to the library. (Which will probably be tomorrow...) :-)

    ~Cindy

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  8. Thanks for this review. The book looks like a lot of fun. My grandkids will probably be all over this one. By the way, I love (and relate to) the title of your blog. ;-)

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  9. Aw, it does sound fun! I am nearing superhero fatigue, just because of alllll the infinite superhero movies and shows that keep dropping, but I still do love a book that can poke fun at all the cliches.

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  10. Super heroes do well, but in middle school, students want books that are a little more serious. This one felt more elementary. Goodness knows we need happier books in middle grade, though!

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