Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Review: Becoming a Superhero

Summary: For nine-year-old Billy, becoming a superhero is not going to be easy.

Becoming a Superhero takes readers (8 - 12) back to World War 11 and its aftermath, as they look inside the life of Billy Smith, a 10-year-old living in a Pennsylvania coal mining town. Billy decides he wants to become an American superhero, yet the choices he makes often have disastrous consequences.

The story is a tale of morals and values. A first-person narrative of a young boy, caught between the innocence of childhood and the responsibilities of growing up. Each page is like having Grandpa tell stories of what life was like growing up "in the olden days."

The story is semi-autobiographical, based on published poems of my childhood. I am currently a college instructor teaching psychology and education courses at Ocean County College in New Jersey. -- Book Jacket

I am so happy when I have the chance to review a children's book, especially when it's one that I really enjoy. BECOMING A SUPERHERO by William D. Smith was just a pleasure to read. I immediately felt a tie to this book because like the boy in the story, my father is from a small coal-mining town in Western Pennsylvania and his father was a coalminer. While the young boy in this book was about ten years older than my dad, so many of his stories just felt as if I they could have been part of my family's past. Since I still enjoy hearing so many tales about my father and the people in his hometown, I knew this book would be a lot of fun for me to read.

I was not disappointed -- I thought this book was very funny. The author had a great way of capturing stories through a young boy's eyes. I especially enjoyed how the book was very upbeat and had a good moral message. Each chapter was a cute take on an event in Billy's young life. Not only will children laugh at Billy's stories, but there is a lot of humor that adults will appreciate too. Through Billy's various adventures and the people he meets, he learns many life lessons. He eventually develops a list of superhero rules:

1. Slavery just ain't right (Huck Finn's rule).
2. Problems can be solved peacefully (M. Gandhi's rule).
3. Crimes can be solved using deduction (Dick Tracy's rule).
4. Always do the right thing (Louise's rule).
5. You must have courage, a heart, and a brain (The Wizard's rule).

These rules sound like good advice for people of any age, not just young boys trying to become superheroes.

My 8 1/2 year old daughter read the book too. She thought it was "very, very funny" especially the end when he won the award for his creative arithmetic answers. She said that she even laughed out loud a few times. Booking Daughter also liked that he was always trying to be a superhero; yet he seemed to never do things exactly right. One day he finally got credit for a good deed when he helped save his grandmother during a gas explosion. This book made her feel happy and sad; and she would definitely recommend it to both boys and girls.

BECOMING A SUPERHERO is a very entertaining read. It's just a feel-good, happy story that will entertain children and adults of all ages. I highly recommend it!

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