Send for a Superhero! by Michael Rosen with illustration by Katharine McEwen is the kind of super fun book that makes you stop and wonder why there aren't more picture books about, starring or including superheroes. Then, when you remember that there are quite a few books of this nature you remember that most of the are forgettable - short of Mini Grey's Traction Man Trilogy.
Rosen tells a story-within-a-story in Send for a Superhero!, with a father reading to his children at bedtime from the comic book, Send for a Superhero! In the world of the comic book, the Terrible Two, Filth, who "pours muck and slime over everything," and Vacuum, who can "suck money and jewels and treasure out of people's pockets, out of drawers, even out of banks," are in a rocket ship headed straight for earth and ready to destroy everything!
Siblings Emma and Elmer interact with each other in typically antagonistic ways, and also with dad, who they manage to trick into reading another chapter. What makes Send for a Superhero! super is the way that Rosen plays with the traditional comic book super hero story. Young Brad 40, resident of Townton and student in Miss Nice's Class Perfect, alerts the world to the impending doom, but she can't believe that anything bad could happen in Townton. Next, Brad 40 tries contacting the Mayor with his "handheld computer Z-Player" and gets the response he was hoping for.
The Mayor sends for a superhero! Steel Man is defeated. Super-Flying-Through-the-Air-Very-Fast Man is slimed! Incredibly-Big-Strong-Green-Man takes a dive! Finally, Brad 40 tells the Mayor to send for Extremely Boring Man who puts the villains to sleep with his tedious talk and his grey, pale presence.
Even though this is a bedtime story, Send for a Superhero! probably isn't the best book to read if you want your little listeners to drift off to dreamland as you read. There is non-stop action and subtle humor that keeps you glued to the page, which is exactly what makes Send for a Superhero! a memorable superhero picture book that will be on the shelves for a long time. My only complaint? Even though all but one superhero is defeated, I wish that there was a more balanced gender representation in the story. Maybe the Mayor could have been a woman? And the teacher who thought Brad 40 was just crying wolf could have been a man? And just one of the defeated superheroes could have been a woman...
Source: Review Copy