Joshua Dread

Joshua Dread

4.1 11
by Lee Bacon

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For Joshua Dread, middle school is proving to be, well, awkward. Not only do bullies pick on him, but do you see those supervillains over there trying to flood the world? The ones that everyone, including his best friend Milton, are rooting for Captain Justice to take down? They're the Dread Duo, and they just happen to be his parents. As if trying to hide his… See more details below

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For Joshua Dread, middle school is proving to be, well, awkward. Not only do bullies pick on him, but do you see those supervillains over there trying to flood the world? The ones that everyone, including his best friend Milton, are rooting for Captain Justice to take down? They're the Dread Duo, and they just happen to be his parents. As if trying to hide his identity wasn't hard enough, Joshua has started leaving a trail of exploding pencils and scorched handprints in his wake, and only Sophie, the new girl in town with a mysterious past, seems unsurprised. When a violent attack at the Vile Fair makes it clear someone is abducting supervillains, and that his parents may very well be next, Joshua must enlist both Sophie and Milton's help to save them. Well-written, fast-paced, and remarkably funny, Joshua Dread is the first in a series that will appeal far beyond its target audience.

“Joshua Dread is funny, action-packed, and a total page-turner. You’ll want to read to the bitter end—unless Joshua’s parents destroy the world first. Which is a distinct possibility.”—Adam Gidwitz, author of A Tale Dark & Grimm
"Villainy! Mayhem! Family! From supervillains to killer houseplants, Joshua Dread has it all. I couldn't put it down and I didn't dare, not until I'd devoured every last page!" -C. Alexander London, author of the Accidental Adventure series

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this lively romp from newcomer Bacon, sixth-grader Joshua Dread is contending with the knowledge that his parents are secretly supervillains who periodically try to take over and/or destroy the world, only to inevitably be beaten down by heroes like the telegenic, endorsement-happy Captain Justice. Just as Joshua's own power of spontaneous combustion emerges, he faced with a worse problem: weird smoke creatures are kidnapping supervillains, and his parents are the latest to vanish. Now Joshua must save the worst villains on the planet, and his only allies are his best friend, Milton, and Sophie, a new girl with secrets of her own. Despite predictable moments, Bacon's deadpan narrative hums along with outrageous details, humor, and action and is complemented by Dorman's suitably heroic b&w portraits of the characters. A hero with a double life and a colossal set of parental issues, Joshua handles zombies, killer robots, and teenage girls without losing his cool. Bacon's affectionately playful take on the superhero genre introduces bombastic personalities without reducing the characters to caricatures. Ages 9–12. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Joshua's parents are super villains and he has just discovered he has fledgling powers of his own, the Gyft of spontaneous combustion. Embarrassed by both facts he is determined to keep everything a secret. Sophie, the new girl at school, has secrets of her own though; her dad is Captain Justice, the archenemy of super villains everywhere! Mysterious smoke creatures begin terrorizing the town and villains start disappearing, including Joshua's parents. His only hope is to enlist his human friend Milton and Sophie's help to find them. The kids uncover a plot by Phineas Vex, a power hungry inventor who plans to use Captain Justice's quest for increased fame as a front for his own evil purposes. When the time is right he will release all the kidnapped villains and blame it on the soon-to-be dead Captain Justice. Using their smarts and their powers the kids foil his plans, free the villains and save the day. The uneasy truce between the parents leans nicely into a foreshadowing of sequels to come. Filled with humor and tongue-in-cheek comments the series opener serves as a worthy primer for Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and the ilk. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Middle school is tough enough when the only things you have to worry about are getting your homework done and avoiding the sixth-grade bully. But when your parents are Dr. Dread and the Botanist, evil supervillains who try to destroy the world on a regular basis, life can be a real challenge. As the only son of the Dread Duo, Joshua is used to keeping things undercover-from Mom's mutant houseplants to Dad's death lasers-not to mention the leftover zombie in their basement. It doesn't help that his best friend is a fan of Captain Justice, the Duo's archenemy. Until now, Milton has been unaware of his pal's family secret, but then Justice's daughter, Sophie, moves into their class. Furthermore, Joshua is beginning to manifest a super "Gyft" of his own. The ability to generate spontaneous combustion-and cause stuff to explode-is cool, but can be inconvenient when you accidentally incinerate your bedroom. This lighthearted fantasy pokes gentle fun at the conventional superhero meme and takes some sly digs at media-driven celebrity as well. Aside from their fiendish felonies, the Duo are concerned, caring parents. Super Dad Justice, on the other hand, always seems to have one eye on his product endorsements. Joshua's struggles with his sometimes erratic superpower will resonate with readers coping with their own changing bodies and emotions.—Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Kirkus Reviews
"It's embarrassing to run into your parents when you're with people from school, especially when your parents are about to destroy the planet." Sixth-grader Joshua has always had to contend with his parents' secret identities, The Botanist and Dr. Dread--the Dread Duo. They keep trying to destroy the world, and Captain Justice keeps thwarting them. Now, it looks like Josh might be Gyfted (Genetic Youth Fluctuation, Triggering Extraordinary Development). He's not sure how he feels about that. Does he want to be a supervillain? He certainly doesn't want to shill for every product on the planet like Captain Justice. To make matters worse, when strange creatures attack the Vile Fair, a yearly expo for supervillains, the world's most evil villains begin vanishing. When the Dread Duo fall prey, can Josh solve the mystery and save his parents? Bacon's debut is a fast and often funny entry in the kid-with-superpowers subgenre. Joshua, his normal friend Milton and new friend Sophie all contend with real preteen troubles (bullies and gossip) as well as those particular to the Gyfted. Dorman's occasional black-and-white illustrations of the characters are a nice addition, but there are far too few of them. A twisty, swiftly moving adventure sure to please superhero fans. (Fantasy. 8-12)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Joshua Dread Series, #1
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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