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Middle Grade Monday Book Review – School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough

Something is rotten in the state of Heropolis! Or, rather, several somethings are rotten, and maybe not quite what you think. Well, really, it’s a very broad and layered situation with various levels of understanding and complexities to points of view. Obviously, this is not just another book where a kid discovers he has super powers.

Imagine a world where super heroes and villains (or metahumans) are real. This is the world Evan Quick knows. Instead of turning on the TV to see celebrities like Taylor Swift and Justing Beiber, he watches news stories about real life super heroes saving the day (Masks) against both natural disasters and those caused by super powered villains (Hoods.)

Evan’s compassionate and rational mathematician parents have always indulged their only child’s love of super heroes. For his 13th birthday, they buy him a special pass to the super hero theme park, Camp Commanding, owned by and based on the exploits of Evan’s favorite hero, Captain Commanding. Upon arrival, Evan is directed to a special area to be given a gift and entered for a chance to win his very own hero suit; he assumes it’s just part of the special pass package. He’s selected as a winner and directed into another special chamber to be fitted. The full body measurement scans are super tingly! Unfortunately for Evan, he’s involved in an accident at the park which causes it to close early, before he can return to pick up his special suit. When he goes back to pick it up several days later, the special area is no longer there and has been replaced by restrooms. He’s too embarrassed to ask questions and returns to life as normal. Or so he thinks.

Mix in an isolated school, a washed out superhero mentor, and multiple twists and turns, and you have a thoroughly engaging, thought provoking read. One of my favorite aspects of this novel is how all of the characters are complex and multifaceted(as well as ethnically diverse.) A highly recommended novel for all middle school collections – especially where superheroes are popular – although isn’t that everywhere?

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