This funny, spirited exploration of superhero culture sans violence and with an added dose of familial love is a powerful...

SUPERHERO INSTRUCTION MANUAL

When there are no radioactive spiders around to gift you with super skills, curl up with the Superhero Instruction Manual to learn what it takes to realize your inner superhero.

Told in a combination of comic-book frames, traditional picture-book spreads, and text boxes that contain directives from the titular manual, the book introduces readers to a young, white boy deeply absorbed in a “complete, unabridged” instruction manual that guarantees it can turn anyone super in “seven easy steps.” In the background, a friendly dog and an intrigued-yet-suspicious sister follow him throughout his journey to superherodom in hilarious counterpoint. The instructions lead to miniadventures, such as the search for a supersecret hideout that shows him approaching the occupied doghouse and being banished from the predictable behind-the-couch sanctum before fetching up in the remodeled treehouse (complete with “No Sisters” sign). The tale turns as the sister takes to the role of hero with more ease than her discombobulated brother, who feels far from super after a world-saving–cum–world-ending high-speed chase through the park in pursuit of his villainous sidekick pet dog. She helps readers realize that heroics are not always about superpowers but the true human power of “always [being] there when it counts.”

This funny, spirited exploration of superhero culture sans violence and with an added dose of familial love is a powerful addition to any bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-75534-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more