The Adventures of Beanboy

The Adventures of Beanboy

4.8 7
by Lisa Harkrader

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Never underestimate the power of the bean.
Tucker MacBean has been drawing comic books almost as long as he’s been reading them. When his favorite comic has a contest for kids, he hopes he has finally found a way to fix his family—all he has to do is create the winning superhero sidekick . . . Introducing “Beanboy”—the first comic


Never underestimate the power of the bean.
Tucker MacBean has been drawing comic books almost as long as he’s been reading them. When his favorite comic has a contest for kids, he hopes he has finally found a way to fix his family—all he has to do is create the winning superhero sidekick . . . Introducing “Beanboy”—the first comic book character to truly harness the power of the bean for good. He is strong, he is relentless, he can double in size
overnight (if given enough water).
With thoughtful characterizations and copious comic book illustrations, this laughout-loud novel will have readers rooting for a superhero with true heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Good-naturedly sardonic Tucker MacBean is a collector and aspiring creator of comic books, a preoccupation that he realizes doesn’t rank high “on the sliding scale of middle-school coolness.” He enters a contest to create a sidekick for his favorite superhero, convinced that a win will jump-start his popularity; he plans to give the prize—a college scholarship—to his overextended single mother, who’s juggling classes and work. Tucker joins the art club to prepare his entry, and Sam (a classmate who Tucker sees as “arch nemesis to the world”) is hired to babysit his special-needs brother after school. As Beanboy, Tucker’s invented sidekick, takes shape (Harkrader also contributes sketches and comics-style panel art throughout), Tucker displays his own heroism when he reaches out to Sam after discovering why she is so belligerent and defensive. Tucker’s rapport with his brother, concern for his mother, and frustration with his absent father (who now “only existed in e-mails”) add emotional depth to Harkrader’s (Airball: My Life in Briefs) believable portrait of school and family life. Ages 9–12. Agent: Steven Chudney, the Chudney Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"With a full comic adventure that includes a farting superhero, this is an excellent reccomendation for kids transitioning between graphic novels and traditional books."--Kirkus

"Tucker's rapport with his brother, concern for his mother, and frustration with his absent father (who now 'only existed in e-mails') add emotional depth to Harkrader's believable portrait of school and family life."--Publishers Weekly "Harkrader has created superb characters...Fans of Dav Pilkey's 'Captain Underpants' (Scholastic) or Jeff Kinney's 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' (Abrams) books will embrace Tucker and his winsome, quirky friends and schoolmates."--School Library Journal, starred review

"[Harkrader] offers another knowing, funny, and sometimes moving look at middle-school issues."--Booklist

Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
Tucker MacBean, a seventh grade, not-so-popular kid, sees the world as a comic book. Tucker's best friend Noah is sidekick material. Sam (Samantha) Zawicki is villainous. And he, of course is the hero. The setup is neat, well-defined and, of course, it's not true. Life's problems do not fit perfectly into Tucker's drawings. Tucker has to help his mother with her overload of work and college, help his younger brother, figure out how to deal with villains at school, and learn to adjust when problems spill into many different categories. As Tucker rises to the occasion, his approach is still that of a comic book character, or at least a comic book artist, but he finds a surprising depth in his stories that provide a satisfying ending. Tucker's adventures will be enjoyed by the "Wimpy Kid" crowd as well as comic book readers, and those who just like a cool book about a likable, if troubled boy. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
Kirkus Reviews
Can drawing the winning entry for a comic-book contest solve all of Tucker MacBean's problems? Actually, the seventh-grader's ever-growing list of obstacles becomes the pressure cooker in which his own true character takes on power. This revelation becomes the kernel of truth needed to make his comic-book avatar, Beanboy, a winner. Harkrader builds realistic settings of complicated family relationships without requiring them to take center stage, including single-parent homes, special-needs siblings, living with grandparents and poverty. The action ramps up when the class bully, Sam Zawicki, is hired to babysit Tucker's younger brother, Beecher. Although there are an abundance of minor characters, it is the turbulent relationship between Tucker and Sam, crackling with villainous energy even as it warms, that sets the story's pace. As Tucker's real problems start to multiply, tension builds in his developing comic book--and with the contest deadline looming, Beanboy has not proven his mettle. The resolution of multiple problems, however, seems to fall like dominoes once Tucker sticks up for Sam at the school dance. Tucker realizes his own power to solve problems, resulting in an epiphany that contributes to be successful end to both his and Beanboy's adventures. With a full comic adventure that includes a farting superhero, this is an excellent recommendation for kids transitioning between graphic novels and traditional books. (Fiction. 8-12)
Children's Literature - Laura Dekle
Tucker MacBean’s world is comprised of his parents, brother, best friend, and comic books. Things start to change when his dad moves out of the family’s house, and Tucker, his mom, and brother have to move to a smaller house. Production of his favorite comic book takes a break, and his brother gets a new babysitter: his archenemy. All of a sudden, everything is different. He acquires some secrets and takes advantage of an opportunity, but he is not sure what things are safe to tell his best friend, Noah. Tucker realizes that he has more responsibility than he’s ever had before, and he begins to develop empathy for others in the process. Tucker learns to use his strengths to improve the world around him. The book contains several excellent examples of flat and round characters. It also has several recurring pieces of imagery—sticky notes, flowers in his old tire swing, and the way things used to be. However, Hardraker’s writing style consistently utilizes sentence structure with no subject, such as “Snapped my gaze towards Noah.” This is an improper model for students, as they need to be shown correct sentence structure in order to use it. Regardless, Tucker is an admirable character and Beanboy is relatable, comical, redeeming, and real. Reviewer: Laura Dekle; Ages 10 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Comic-book dweeb Tucker MacBean fervently waits each month for the latest issue of his beloved superhero comic, H2O. When the publishers announce a contest to design the protagonist's sidekick, the seventh grader sees it as the solution to his problems. The prize is a full college scholarship, which he hopes to win for his mother so that she can quit her job to focus on school and her boys—Tucker and his brother with special needs, Beecher. Standing in his way is his arch nemesis, combat-boot-wearing, death-glaring Sam (Samantha) Zawicki and the rules for the contest, which state that the prize cannot be transferred. Tucker's superhero has the ultimate weapon—stun gas from emitted flatulence—but the boy struggles to uncover within himself the fearless heart of a hero to serve as the model for the key element of his superhero. Harkrader has created superb characters in a story that interweaves Tucker's developing Beanboy comic and other illustrations, such as sticky-note communications between him and his mother. Fans of Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" (Scholastic) or Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Abrams) books will embrace Tucker and his winsome, quirky friends and schoolmates.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


My best friend, Noah, was reading over my shoulder. “Weird how she’s always got it in for little kids,” he said. “Yeah.” I flipped the page.

 Advertisement. Flipped again. Another ad. Flipped. Too many pages.

 “You went past it,” said Noah.

 I flipped back. 

 Beep-beep. Beep-beep.

 “Uh, Tucker?” Noah waved his wristwatch in my face. “Beecher’s bus.”

 I tore my eyes from the blazing school building. Tried to focus on Noah’s watch. He was still waving it around, so I couldn’t see what time zone he had it set for, but I knew it was synchronized to the atomic clock at the Naval Observatory and updated continuously by satellite. When Noah’s watch beeped, it wasn’t kidding.

 I smoothed H2O Submerged, Episode Nine: Cataclysm shut. Shot a glance at the back counter. If I was going to do this thing, I had to do it now. 

 Noah clicked his watch off and swung his bassoon case over his shoulder. Don’t ask what a bassoon is. No one knows. I’ve been Noah’s best friend since kindergarten, and I’m still not sure. It looks like . . . actually, it looks like Noah. Some people look like their dogs. Noah looks like his band instrument—skinny, perfect posture, shiny and dark. 

 I grabbed my backpack, and we threaded our way through aisles of comics, through the dust specks that floated on the few rays of light that had managed to beat their way inside. It had been raining all afternoon, and the damp air drew out the shop’s wet-dog aroma. 

 We reached the counter, where Caveman sat hunkered over a graphic novel, his Hawaiian shirt stretched over the mountains of his shoulders, his wild black hair fluttering as he turned a page. He truly was a caveman. A caveman with a Wonder Woman lunchbox collection.

 I pushed H2O toward him, reached into my shoe, and pulled out three dollars and twenty-one cents. I clanked it onto the counter. Caveman dinged the cash register open and slid the money in. He didn’t even look at it. He knew I had the exact change. He slipped H2O into a plastic sack, handed me the receipt, and went back to his novel.

 I swallowed. A nervous tang prickled my throat. I’d been working up my courage since Noah and I first stepped into Caveman Comics—no, before that, before we left school even—and if I didn’t do it now, I wouldn’t get another chance till next month. 

 Noah gave me an encouraging thumbs-up.

  “So. Caveman.” I slid the sack off the counter. Casually. You know, so it wouldn’t look like I was making a big deal out of it or anything. “You ever think about deliveries?”

 Caveman licked a finger. Turned a page. Didn’t look up. “Nope.”

 At least, I think that’s what he said. It was more of a grunt than an actual word. Which partially explains his name.

 I took another breath. “It’s just this idea I had. Deliveries, I mean. Like Pizza Rocket, only with comics instead of, you know, pizza. You should think about it.”

 Caveman turned another page. “Nope.”

 Nope, he wouldn’t think about it? Or nope, he’d already thought about it, decided it was a bad idea, and was never going to think about it again? 

 Hard to tell. 

  “Okay.” I nodded. 

 I tucked the receipt in my shoe (a.k.a. the best place to store your most important paperwork), gripped the crinkly plastic stack, and started toward the door. 

  “Because here’s what I was thinking,” I said. Casually. Like I was tossing ideas at him on my way out. “It might do a lot for your business. You know, provide just one more service no other comic book shop provides.”

 Not that Caveman was big on service in the first place. But still.

  “Dude.” Another lick. Another page. “I’m not delivering your comic books. You can come down here and buy them like everybody else.”

 I stopped. A whole sentence. Two, actually. 

  “But see?” I said. “That’s the beauty of it. These deliveries—they wouldn’t be to me. They’d be from me. You’d hire me to be your comic book delivery man. On my bike.”

 With Beecher on the handlebars if I had to.

  “Not happening.”

 I blinked. “Okay. But think about it because—”

  “Not happening.”

  “Okay, but if you change your mind—”

  “Tucker,” Noah whispered. “I don’t think it’s happening.”

 I sighed. When Noah and I rule the world, comic book delivery will be mandatory. 

 Noah headed for the door. I trudged after him, the crinkly sack rustling against my leg. We wound our way through tables and racks and shelves, all groaning under the weight of the world’s greatest superheroes: H2O and Batman, Superman and Spidey. American and Japanese.

 We passed a small rack squeezed in between NEW RELEASE and GOLDEN AGE CLASSICS. One of Caveman’s signs was thumbtacked above it, black marker on a scrap of dusty poster board:  LOCAL INDIES

 Most people came in looking for the latest X-Men and didn’t know these were here. 

 But I knew.

 Because these weren’t like the other comic books in the store. They weren’t written by famous comic book writers and drawn by famous artists. They weren’t printed in color on shiny paper and shipped out by the millions every month by Marvel or D.C. or Dark Overlord or some other behemoth comic book company. 

 Mostly they were black-and-white Xeroxes, carefully folded and stapled, printed a handful at a time, probably at the copy shop over by the university.

 But they were here. Real live comics in a real live comic book store. 

 I pulled one out. Ran my hand over the grainy cover.

  “So, hey. Caveman,” I said.

 He may have grunted. Or maybe not. The Cavester was a man of few words. 

  “Have these indie comics started making any money?” I said.

 And sometimes no words. He didn’t even glance up.

  “Yeah. I know. Not as much as it costs the artists to print them. But I thought I’d ask. Just to see if anything had changed. I guess it hasn’t.”

 I slid the comic back into the rack. Ran my hand over it one more time. One day that would be me. One day my comic books would be for sale. And not just here at Caveman. Across the country. 

 Across the country? Heck, around the planet. I’d be the most famous comic book artist ever, world-renowned for creating . . . well, I didn’t know what. Yet. But he (or she—you can’t be raised by my mother and not consider the very real possibility that the world’s greatest superhero just might be a girl) would be amazing. The most amazing comic book hero ever. 

 I’d go to all the big comic book conventions, and the line of fans waiting for my autograph would stretch out of the building and around the block. Which would be exciting, but it wouldn’t give me a big head. I’d still be humble. I’d still be Tucker MacBean from Wheaton, Kansas. I’d still talk to everyone who came up to me and thank them for the excellent things they said about my—

  “Tucker.” Noah tapped his watch.

  “Yeah.” I nodded. “I’m with you.” I turned away from the indie rack. I’d have to be famous later. 

 Noah and his bassoon leaned into the glass door. The afternoon thunderstorm had fizzled out, but a leftover wind swirled in from the stairwell and spit drizzle at us.

 I pulled the collar of my jacket up around my ears. Glanced back at Caveman. 

  “Thanks,” I called back to him. “See you next month.” 

  “I doubt it.”

 I doubt it? What did he mean? I was his most loyal customer. I bought at least one comic book a month. Every single month.

 I was as dependable as Noah’s watch.

 And I told Caveman so.

  “I always come in. The very day the new H2O hits the stands.” Next month especially. The episode I held in my hand, Episode Nine, contained a secret that would rock the H2O universe. Episode Ten would be the epic showdown that changed that universe forever.

 Caveman licked his finger and turned a page. “Yep.”

 That was all he said. 

 I shot a funny look at Noah, who was still standing in the doorway, the wind whipping specks of rain against his glasses. 

  “What does he mean?” I said.

 Noah rolled his eyes. “Who ever knows what he means? Let’s just go.”

  “It’s got to mean something.”

  “Tucker? Hello? It’s already”—Noah bent his elbow into a crisp ninety-degree angle so his watch was at eye level. He clicked through various cities (Tokyo, London, New York) till he finally got to us here in Wheaton—“three nineteen.”

  “Three nineteen? Why didn’t you tell me?”

  “I did. We’re veering dangerously off schedule here. I have bassoon practice. And homework. And a firm bedtime. And if you miss Beecher’s bus, your mom’ll ground you.”

  “Ground me? Are you kidding?” I headed out the door. “If I miss Beecher’s bus, she’ll kill me.”
 “She’ll kill you first. Then she’ll ground you.” 

Meet the Author

Lisa Harkrader's debut novel, AIRBALL:  My Life in Briefs (Roaring Brook), described by SLJ as "a quirky combination of The Mighty ducks meets Captain Underpants," has been on state award lists in Kansas, Texas, Washington state, Florida, Maine and was a Bank Street College Best book of the year, a Texas Lonestar Award Nominee, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and  New York Public Library Best book for the teen Age.   She makes her home with her family on a farm in Kansas. 

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The Adventures of Beanboy 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cool book love it you should buy it worth the money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really love this book so much that this book is to die for! I would vote this book to be the best book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I's so funny! Beanboy flies by farting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book grabbed the attention of my 5 and 7 years old kids. They still love it, remember the characters, and discuss it. A good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first read the sample I went crazy for this book. I had to beg my parents to let me get it. READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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