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“Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.” More

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Author: Frances Watts

Illustrator: Judy Watson

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Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2010

Material: paperback

Summary: The day the Baxter Branch of the Superheroes Society got a letter from HQ was Ernie Eggers lucky day. How did the Amazing Desmond know that he wanted to be just like the Daring Dynamo? How could Desmond even think he's anything like the Dynamo? His sidekick-in-training is Maud. And she's pretty baa-a-a-shful. How can a 4th grader and a sheep possibly save the world? This is a lightly illustrated chapter book for transitional readers.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, reluctant reader, transitional reader, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 10; read yourself: 9 and up

Interest Level: 6 to 10

Reading Level: 4.4

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a fun, tongue-in-cheek story that had me laughing out loud (at times). I particularly liked that Ernie is completely average: not athletic, not super-good grades. He is just a kid who is skeptical of new people (or in this case sheep) with a big heart. Their superhero skills are put to the test dealing with bullies, and aside from being somewhat predictable, I wish Ernie and Maud had had more success with fewer thrown punches.

Pros: Lots of action, unique characters, and humor of all types combine in a story that will keep kids turning the page.

Cons: Even with the illustrations, the chapters run about five pages. This will push its interest beyond some kids.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow first. See if you like the series and the characters. The story is sophisticated enough to go beyond your typical early chapter book, but you probably would only read it once.

If You Liked This Book, Try: MO AND JO FIGHTING TOGETHER FOREVER (TOON Books)   THE HERO REVEALED; The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy Book 1   DODGER AND ME

Educational Themes: Ernie learns a number of lessons in this story. He becomes wrapped up in superhero-dom and loses perspective; he tries things to make him sound cooler; and he faces some dilemmas. These all make for great discussion points. It might also be fun to let kids dream up their own "average" superheroes ... what would the be? what would they do?

Notes: This publisher sent a copy of this book as part of the 2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils. The book will be donated to a reader in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - easy reader series, friendship

Date(s) Reviewed: January 2011

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