Send for a Superhero!

Overview

Comic-book action meets picture-book adventure in this exciting and funny new outing from beloved author Michael Rosen and illustrator Katharine McEwen.

Tune in as a father reads his children a bedtime story about the exploits of two villains, Filth and Vacuum, and their wicked plan to suck all the money out of the banks and cover everything with muck and slime. Who is strong enough to save the world? Not Steel Man, nor Flying Through the Air Very Fast Man, nor even Incredible ...

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Overview

Comic-book action meets picture-book adventure in this exciting and funny new outing from beloved author Michael Rosen and illustrator Katharine McEwen.

Tune in as a father reads his children a bedtime story about the exploits of two villains, Filth and Vacuum, and their wicked plan to suck all the money out of the banks and cover everything with muck and slime. Who is strong enough to save the world? Not Steel Man, nor Flying Through the Air Very Fast Man, nor even Incredible Big Strong Green Man. It may just be a job for clever young Brad Forty, who transforms himself into . . . Extremely Boring Man! His superpower is making people fall asleep — but will it work on the children listening to this story?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
Former British Children’s Laureate Rosen skewers comic-book conventions in this story-within-a-story. With siblings Emily and Elmer cozied up on either side of him, Dad reads them the very book readers are holding in their hands. McEwen’s (I Love You, Little Monkey) mixed-media illustrations shift from soft, homey scenes into energetic comic-book storytelling mode as the family becomes immersed in the story of two villains—Filth, a one-eyed green blob, and Vacuum, a money-stealing vacuum cleaner—who are terrorizing the town of Townton. Lots of sounds effects (“schweee” “skloosh”) and maniacal laughter ensue as three superheroes are called in to save the day. The would-be heroes—Steel Man, Super-Flying-Through-the-Air-Very-Fast Man, and Incredibly-Big-Strong-Green Man—are basically low-rent cousins to Iron Man, Superman, and the Hulk, and where they fail, a secret agent/schoolboy’s suggestion succeeds. The over-the-top superhero drama and pratfall-laden clashes slyly send up familiar comic book tropes, while the mid-story interruptions and diversions involving Emily and Elmer showcase a homey family dynamic that many readers will recognize. Ages 3–7. (June)
From the Publisher
Veteran children’s-book writer Rosen proves he knows what kids like and what they ARE like. ... Although this approach has been used before, rarely has it been executed with such hilarious results.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

McEwen’s mixed-media illustrations shift from soft, homey scenes into energetic comic-book storytelling mode as the family becomes immersed in the story... The over-the-top superhero drama and pratfall-laden clashes slyly send up familiar comic book tropes, while the mid-story interruptions and diversions involving Emily and Elmer showcase a homey family dynamic that many readers will recognize.
—Publishers Weekly

This story-within-a-story begins with Dad reading a book to his two kids at bedtime. Viewers will note that the book Dad is reading—Send for a Superhero!—is the same book they’re looking at. It’s the sort of mind-bending detail kids love and sets the tone for the meta-humor to come. ... The text and art shift smoothly between superhero action and bedtime scenario, and children should have little trouble following both storylines—one funny for its recognizable family dynamics, the other for its off-brand superheroes, wacky bad guys, and helpless grownups. ... Together these two stories make one Extremely Not-Boring Adventure in reading.
—The Horn Book

The mixed-media illustrations are eye-catching and entertaining. Precisely drawn panels filled with subtle humor detail the perils of all-too-perfect Townton in comic-book fashion, contrasting nicely with the plush, jewel-toned family bedtime scenes below. Pair this clever title with another superhero adventure ... for an action-packed storyhour.
—School Library Journal

McEwen comes through like a champ, illustrating the action in convincing Sunday-comics style, complete with flat-looking characters, faded colors, and a background approximating newsprint. ... [A]ny silliness here is good silliness.
—Booklist

Illustrated by Katharine McEwen, this rollicking picture book pairs the drama of a man trying to lull his children to sleep with the dynamic saga of hapless earthlings who desperately summon one superhero after another to defeat the sludgy, vacuuming forces of evil. ... Very funny but not remotely soporific entertainment for 5- to 8-year-olds.
—The Wall Street Journal

Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
The lively illustrations in this new superhero-themed picture book begin with the cover: a large goopy green monster and a robot-like creature will intrigue readers, as it terrorizes a city street. The corner image seems to show a pair of children peeking in at the urban scene—what does this mean? Turn to the first page and find that the story revolves around a dad who is reading to his children, Emily and Elmer, at bedtime. He is reading a book by the same name and with the same cover as Send for a Superhero! Page-spreads from that comic book are interspersed with the outer-story of the dad and children. The plot of that story involves a series of superheroes trying to take down the dastardly duo from the cover. Disappointingly, all four superheroes plus the main character of the comic book are male. In this modern age, it seems an odd choice not to include a single female superhero. As a read-aloud, this book faces several challenges. Flipping between the voices in the comic book text and those of the outer-story makes the book challenging for young pre-readers to follow along. If you share this book, keep one finger alongside the text to help lap children follow along. The book ends with the dad having to read another chapter in the Send a Super Hero! volume he holds, and this leaves the reader (who has only this one “chapter”) feeling let down. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
06/01/2014
K-Gr 3—In this story within a story, a father reads to his children at bedtime, sharing with them a tale of danger, destruction, and unexpected heroism. Emily and little Elmer listen avidly as Dad begins, "'Danger! The Terrible Two are trying to destroy the world!'" The villains, Filth and Vacuum, plan to pour muck and slime over an idyllic small town called Townton while sucking up all the money, jewels, and treasure to be had. At school, young Brad 40 receives an alert of the impending threat and contacts the mayor. The mayor calls in three strong, fast, and big superheroes who prove to be no match for the Terrible Two. At last, Brad 40 comes up with an ingenious idea to save the day: lull the bad guys to sleep with the help of Extremely Boring Man. As Dad narrates, the children interrupt him with their comments about the rising action. Like many siblings, they squabble, and Elmer delights in imitating the evil cackle of the villains. The mixed-media illustrations are eye-catching and entertaining. Precisely drawn panels filled with subtle humor detail the perils of all-too-perfect Townton in comic-book fashion, contrasting nicely with the plush, jewel-toned family bedtime scenes below. Pair this clever title with another superhero adventure, Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman's Superhero Joe and the Creature Next Door (S. & S., 2013) for an action-packed storyhour.—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-03-17
An over-the-top comic-book adventure within a bedtime story aims for laughs. Veteran children's-book writer Rosen (Aesop's Fables, 2013, etc.) proves he knows what kids like and what they are like. The story begins as Dad reads a comic book to "Emily and little Elmer" at bedtime: Filth and Vacuum are on their way to Earth to take over the world. Within the comic book, savvy schoolboy Brad 40 tries to warn Miss Nice and Class Perfect. In the frame, Elmer gets excited by the story, and Emily becomes impatient with his interruptions. Back in the story, Brad 40 alerts Mayor Troubleshoot of the dreaded duo's approach, and the Mayor mobilizes the heroes. Unfortunately, neither Steel Man, Super-Flying-Through-The-Air-Very-Fast-Man nor Incredibly-Big-Strong-Green Man can fend off Filth and Vacuum. Brad 40 calls on Extremely Boring Man to come to the rescue. With his gray-on-gray outfit and seemingly endless monologue about selecting what to wear, he has a slumberous effect on everyone, including Filth and Vacuum—and Elmer and Emily (as if, Dad!). McEwan alters the style of illustration and palette to cue the back and forth between the stories. The comic adventure is laid out in frames with urgent declarations and sound effects, with a printed-on-newsprint effect, whereas the scenes with Elmer and Emily are often on full-bleed pages and pulse with saturated colors. Although this approach has been used before, rarely has it been executed with such hilarious results. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763664381
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/27/2014
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 477,462
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Rosen is an eminent writer, broadcaster, poet, and performer who has received many prestigious awards. His books include We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury; Bananas in My Ears and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, both illustrated by Quentin Blake; This Is Our House and I’m Number One, both illustrated by Bob Graham; Red Ted and the Lost Things, illustrated by Joel Stewart; Tiny Little Fly, illustrated by Kevin Waldron; and Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry, illustrated by Chinlun Lee. A former British Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen lives in London.

Katharine McEwen has illustrated numerous children’s books, including two books about Silver Street Farm by Nicola Davies, The Children Who Smelled a Rat by Allan Ahlberg, and Phyllis Root’s Here Comes Tabby Cat and Hey, Tabby Cat! Katharine McEwen lives in England.

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