Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Superhero - Chris Owen and Moira Court

This first picture book from Chris Owen and Moira Court has all the right ingredients to make it irresistible to its young target audience: it’s visually striking with bold, colourful and endearing illustrations; the rhymed text is perfect for reading aloud; it’s about animals with human qualities; it features repetition that invites the reader join in (KABOOM! KAPOW! KABAM! KASPLAT! My superhero’s not like that.); and it has suspense – the storyline is a riddle, keeping the reader guessing who the superhero might be. The book is a series of lush double-page spreads, each featuring one of a variety of mask-clad animals enacting their superhero role with the accompanying text in four lines of rhyming verse. Every so often the mysterious narrator reminds the reader with a reprise of KABOOM etc to keep guessing. This page then opens out to a majestic quadruple spread with more visual and textual clues supplied to egg the reader on. At the end of the book is an information page detailing facts about each of the animals featured in the story.

My Superhero is an adorable book that small children will be drawn to because of its simplicity, clean design, vibrancy of colour and warmth of characterisation – which comes through in both text and illustrations. Adding to the impact of the book as a whole is the clever use of point of view. The narrator is not seen until the last page, and the superhero animals are presented from a variety of angles: the bear from close-up and front-on; the armadillo, cheetah and chameleon from the side; the goat and the eagle from underneath and so on. On the quadruple-page spreads we see the scene – and clues – through the eyes of the narrator.

Asking to be read aloud, this is a book that will provide many pleasurable reading experiences for child and adult alike. There are opportunities, too, for discussion about the interesting range of animals presented in the story. Most engaging and entertaining.

Freemantle Press 2013

(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 28, Issue 1, March 2013)

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