The Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King, illustrations by Greg Paprocki, 287 pp, RL: 3

Bart King is the undisputed master when it comes to writing fact-filled books for kids that are incredibly fun to read - and do. With The Big Book of Superheroes, illustrated by Greg Paprocki, King covers new territory, exploring the ins and outs of this semi-secret occupation. The Big Book of Superheroes is perfect for any kid with a great sense of imagination and drama, but it is also great for kids obsessed with the Marvel and DC universes and the laws that this world is governed by. 

King starts The Big Book of Superheroes with a "welcome" chapter that takes a broad look at the subject, noting that a superhero is "anyone who wants to fight evildoers and right wrongs." These could be small wrongs like, "Who used up all the toilet paper?" or a big wrong like, "Who used up all of the toilet paper in the Secret Lair?" King's sense of humor is the secret weapon that makes all of his books like the literary version of a spinach brownie - the good stuff is in there an you're going to digest it, but King makes it very yummy to look at and consume.

In this first chapter, I learned that the very first hero was a girl! Ancient Greek myths tell of Hero, "a girl who tragically drowned." From there, he covers the influence of Greek mythology on the comparatively new world of superheroes as we know it today, noting that the word "superhero" didn't catch on until the 1940s. In fact, one of the special factoid boxes that appear on almost every page tells readers that, during WWII, there was a superhero named Miss Victory who fought the Nazis, one of her best lines being, "Heil your grandmother!"

King covers all aspects of superhero-hood assuming that the reader is genuinely exploring the ins and outs of being one. There are chapters (all of which end with an exclamation point) on Acting Like a Superhero!, Becoming a Superhero! and Letting Your Parents Know! Next comes superhero training, fighting like a superhero, speaking superhero (developing zingers and battle cries, of course) and how to conquer the most dangerous foe - rugrats! Apparently, adults may sometimes hire superheroes to fight evil, instead calling it "babysitting." Readers are also instructed on the "lamest and most underrated superpowers," (thing magnetism, supersmell and the ability to see just a little bit into the future) and how to pick a super name and a super costume.

The final third of the book covers supervillains, sidekicks, superhero teams, animal superheroes and secret lairs as well as "Supervillains and Other Ethically Challenged People!" Finally, King wraps it up with a super pop quiz, an appendix of Early Superhero History! and a bibliography for those who want to know more.

Bart King's BIG BOOKS!

Bart's Pocket Guides . . .  

 Source: Review Copy

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