Chabon (Summerland) ventures into picture books with a tongue-in-cheek superhero story that soars, thanks to energetic and slick illustrations by comics artist Parker. Awesome Man, speaking in companionable slang, describes how he battles villains like arch nemesis the Flaming Eyeball and hangs out with his canine buddy, Moskowitz the Awesome Dog. In regard to his name, he explains, "I'm just basically awesome." But as superhero fans know, great power equals great responsibility: "I have to be careful. I can't start hitting stuff," he says. "I might hurt somebody." When he gets angry, he retreats to his undersea Fortress of Awesome (which looks like a suburban home), sits on his twin bed, and wraps himself "in a ginormous Awesome Power Grip. It calms me right down." Parker (Missile Mouse) usually pictures the hero as an athletic fellow with a shiny mask, trim spandex bodysuit, and impeccable coif, but Chabon drops hints regarding the hero's secret identity, which is revealed in the final pages. Though the story meanders a bit, young caped crusaders and Chabon's adult fans alike will grin at this self-consciously witty portrait. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
San Francisco Chronicle
“It’s a wonderful celebration of tough-guy fantasies and down-to-earth boyness, perfectly matched with the retro stylings of animated film artist and comic book illustrator Parker.”
“Chabon’s first-person narrative is that of a boy-zealous, goofy, and antisister-and the story reads like the play-by-play antics of an action figure in a kid’s game.”
New York Times Book Review
Praise for THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY: “The depth of Chabon’s thought, his sharp language, his inventiveness and his ambition make this a novel of towering achievement.”
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Awesome Man can smash through the time barrier, shoot positronic rays out of his eyeballs, and combat mutant Jell—O from Beyond the Stars. "But don't think it's nonstop fun and photons being Awesome Man. Sometimes it can be pretty hard…." When a superhero feels tired and angry, he can always head for the Fortress of Awesome, where Mom is waiting with cheese and crackers and chocolate milk. Chabon's first picture book discharges delectable language like "several billion kilojoules per nanosecond," "Professor Von Evil in his Antimatter Slimebot," and "thermo vulcanized protein-delivery orb." Things are more likely to skloosh and skarunch than not. Verbiage like this nudges the story into read-aloud territory, and children will be swooping around the room as they listen. But if they stop long enough to peek at the pages, they'll enjoy the way Parker kicks it up another notch with hyperkinetic, hypercolored comic-book action scenes. The depiction of a showdown between Awesome Man and his nemesis—the Flaming Eyeball—is priceless. Readers may notice that there's a moral peeking out from Awesome Man's cape, but they'll still grab this story in their "ginormous Awesome Power Grip" and not let go.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
Chabon snags his youngest audience yet with this first-person profile of a superhero who battles both bad guys and anger issues.
Awesome Man zooms about in his stylin' costume, decapitating a giant killer robot with the positronic rays that shoot out of his eyes here, schooling Professor Von Evil's Antimatter Slimebot ("Antimatter slime is extra gross") there. In between, he stops both a disaster-bound train and mutant talking Jell-O from Beyond the Stars with his Awesome Power Grip. But when arch-nemesis Flaming Eyeball gets away, Awesome Man needs a timeout (plus a snack delivered by costumed sidekick Moskowitz the Awesome Dog) to cool off before heading out again to "kick a little bad-guy behind." Awesome indeed is masked Awesome Man in Parker's melodramatic illustrations, cutting a heroic figure as he poses with granite-jawed nobility between bouts with one oversized and luridly menacing foe after another. A.M.'s secret identity remains unrevealed until his closing return to the suburban Fortress of Awesome, but sharper readers may pick it up early from several ingenious verbal and visual clues.
Rest easy, regular people; you supervillains better watch out. (Picture book. 6-8)