Here’s a book that’s great for fans of superheroes and silliness!
Almost Super by Marion Jensen. Harper, 2014.
It’s the day Rafter and Benny Bailey have been waiting for their whole lives: February 29 after they’ve both turned twelve. (Rafter is only a year older than Benny.) Today, they’ll find out their superpowers. Tomorrow, they’ll be able to join the Bailey family’s generations-long struggle to defeat the villainous Johnsons. Except that their superpowers are utterly useless. Rafter can light strike-on-the-box matches on polyester instead, while Benny can change his innie belly button into an outie. They are about to take it out on the only Johnson their age, Juanita – only to find out that she’s also gotten a lousy power and is blaming it on them. Then they learn that Juanita’s power is just as lousy – and that she’s always thought that the Baileys were the villains! Hilarious and exciting action results as the three kids work together to discover the history of the rivalry, at the same time trying to figure out how to be the superheroes they were raised to be without superpowers.
This is a fun and fast-paced book that wraps up in just 251 pages, great for reluctant readers or last-minute reading assignments. The story is told by likeable heroes who are believably the only ones able to look outside the narrative they’ve been given. It’s also a lot of fun to explore the superhero lairs, suits, gadgets and team make-up of the two families. The theme of getting to know enemies and learning that they might not be so bad is a good one, very rarely explored in the usually black-and-white superhero genre. My biggest beef was that the ending contradicts everything the book seemed to be building up to, though it does leave the story open to a sequel. I’d still recommend this, especially to kids in about third through fifth grade.