I won a copy of this book about a year ago in a contest on Shannon Messenger’s blog (thank you, again, Shannon!) It's been sitting on my night table, waiting for me to get around to reading it. I really shouldn’t have waited so long! This book is so much fun!
Today’s Pick: Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities
by Mike Jung
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012
A SUPER funny, SUPER fast-paced, SUPER debut!
Vincent Wu is Captain Stupendous's No. 1 Fan, but even he has to admit that Captain Stupendous has been a little off lately. During Professor Mayhem's latest attack, Captain Stupendous barely made it out alive - although he did manage to save Vincent from a giant monster robot. It's Vincent's dream come true... until he finds out Captain Stupendous's secret identity: It's Polly Winnicott-Lee, the girl Vincent happens to have a crush on.
Captain Stupendous's powers were recently transferred to Polly in a fluke accident, and so while she has all of his super strength and super speed, she doesn't know how to use them, and she definitely doesn't know all the strengths and weaknesses of his many nemeses. But Vincent and his friends are just the right fan club to train up their favorite superhero before he (she?) has to face Professor Mayhem again. And if they make it through this battle for the safety of Copperplate City, Vincent might just get up the courage to ask Polly on a date.
This is a fast-paced adventure with lots of humor and, like all good middle grade fiction, the kids save the day! I really liked all the twists and turns in this story, and the fact that the secret identity of Captain Stupendous is a girl. A really interesting girl, especially from Vincent’s perspective. It was fun thinking about a world where superheroes and villains are part of ordinary daily life.
I thought this book was a perfect example of middle grade fiction, from the storyline to the dialogue to the voice. I especially liked the way the dialogue sounds right. Kids actually talk this way.
“There are four Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Copperplate City, but ours is the only one that doesn’t suck.”
“Old people like to talk about how young other old people look.”
“She was, like, the fastest smile in the west, but it was kind of nice to know she wasn’t pissed off ALL the time, even if the smiling part made me nervous in a totally different way.”
“We’re ready to flex the skinny biceps of justice whenever evildoers come around, whether they’re supernatural boogeymen; pissed-off, foreign demigods; or sixth-grade bullies.”
Mike Jung lives in Northern California, where he is working on his plot to "achieve galactic domination", and hopefully another book, too!
He talks about his decision to make Polly the superhero with Sayantani DasGupta in an interview at From the Mixed Up Files: “Thinking about gender issues is something I always try to do – it’s a big deal, you know? I want my daughter to grow up in a world that doesn’t devalue or dismiss her because of her gender, and I think our personal sensibilities and values do infuse our work to at least some degree.”
For more, visit Mike Jung’s website.
You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).