MY SUPER HERO
Author: Chris Owen Illustrator: Moira Court
Fremantle Press RRP $26.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Real superheroes, some might say, would race around the world all day, saving people, fighting crime, arriving in the nick of time … but …
Superheroes – there’s something about their super-human abilities and amazing strength that resonates with young boys (and the young at heart). Bear and Monkey were no exception, Monkey more so than Bear. He loved wearing his op-shop Spiderman suit whenever we went shopping and thought nothing of wearing a towel cape in public. I still have the red and blue capes Grandma Sausage made them, which were usually worn over the top of a pair of undies and nothing else. To this day, I’m not sure if the attraction was about the incredible superhero powers or the groovy costumes … These days they’d prefer to forget towel capes, but they still like watching the occasional superhero movie.
If they were younger, I’d want to read them My Super Hero by Chris Owen. Written in rhyme, the story considers stereotypical superhero attributes such as amazing strength, incredible speed, sensational costumes, but goes on to celebrate an entirely different superhero – dad. The rhyming pattern works well – it’s easy to read at first try, without having to try to stretch words (or squash them) to make them fit. The overall message is a charming one: ‘all those other superheroes might be pretty good, but my dad is much better than all of them.’ It’s a story that would work equally well in a home or early learning environment (teaching notes are available); I’ll be reading it to my story time group in the near future as part of a superhero theme. It’s also not a bad way to channel boys’ love of superheroes into a love of reading – see which other child-friendly superhero books/comics (and costumes) you can get hold of and explore the theme. That aim wasn’t lost on the author either: the narrator points out ‘but best of all – he reads me books!’ Chris Owen, I bet your ‘two scallywags’ love this book!
Owen’s text is well complemented by Moira Court’s striking illustrations. Bold and bright, the animal superheroes almost leap from the page; using animals was a perceptive choice because it taps into young children’s love of animal stories and begs questions about the kind of superhero the narrator likes best of all. The result is an engaging combination of rhyme and illustration that is bound to charm young readers and listeners. It’s a book I’ll be keeping for my future grandchildren.
On a final note, check out this news story about a dad and son superhero team: the picture says it all.
Available from good bookstores and Fremantle Press. This copy was courtesy of Fremantle Press.