The Barnes & Noble Review
An imaginative boy fesses up to a super-sized mess in this amusing, comic bookflavored picture book by first-time author George O'Connor.
With gently intense action caught in scenes that alternate between real-time at home and the boy's imagination, O'Connor's debut follows "American Eagle," a kid dressed as a crime-fighting hero, along with his pal "Bug Lady" as they face dangers head on. Together, the two take on an escaped panther from the zoo (really the family cat) and a villain called "Rubber Bandit" (the boy's reluctant younger brother), but when the three let their horseplay get out of control and knock over the bookcase, they have to answer to Mom. Thankfully, American Eagle "looks out over the devastation...and he knows what he must do" -- take responsibility for what happened -- which saves the day and results in a colossal clean-up job.
With simple text, a punchy story line, and dynamic illustrations, Kapow! is a knockout read sure to impress young do-gooders. Any kid who's conjured dreams of fighting villains will cheer over the book's action-packed artwork, while parents will appreciate the book's heroic message. A cool companion to other superhero books like Caralyn and Mark Buehner's Superdog, and a blast for eye-catching story times.
Comic strips have long relied on the disjunction between a character's imagined perspective and his or her physical reality. Bill Watterson's Calvin transformed himself into the fearless Spaceman Spiff, and Snoopy straddling the roof of his Sopwith Camel doghouse is an icon in American pop culture. What differentiates KAPOW! from its predecessors is O'Connor's gorgeous coloring. After seeing these enchanting watercolors and explosive acrylic action scenes, young readers may decide to turn in their capes for crayons.
The New York Times
O'Connor debuts with a high-energy comics takeoff in which three children play at being superheroes. The close-up action switches between the costumed children, scrambling around a cramped house, and fantasy battles played out among city buildings. The central figure is American Eagle, a boy in a ball cap decorated with a duckish yellow bill. In his imagination, he becomes a star-spangled hero with an eagle emblem on his chest, pumped-up muscles and enormous fists that strike with a "Kapow!" His crime-fighting partner, Bug Lady, sports thick glasses and a ladybug-spotted backpack, but the imaginative spreads portray her as a sinewy heroine with prismatic fly-eyes and whirring wings. In a fun twist, O'Connor introduces their nemesis, Rubber Bandit, on a wordless spread; he resembles Jack Cole's Plastic Man of the 1940s. But in reality, he is American Eagle's little brother in an oversize shirt. ("Prepare to be snapped, Rubber Bandit!" the hero threatens. "Mom says no hitting!" Rubber Bandit protests.) As the three wrestle, they knock a bookshelf to the floor; the crash summons a towering monster that walks with a "Thoom, thoom, thoom" and casts a demonic purple shadow. It's American Eagle's mother, who bursts in asking, "What happened?!" O'Connor cleverly plays quotidian dialogue against his punchy art. He draws dramatic comics with authority and humor, and he lets everyone in on the jokes. His child characters know they're pretending, but become overzealous when disguised; their enthusiasm is perfectly understandable-and contagious as well. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children of all ages will relate to this comic book-type illustrated book. The superhero in this title is American Eagle with his sidekick, Bug Lady. The villain is the Rubber Bandit. All three are young friends playing make-believe while at the home of American Eagle. His mother has warned them not to roughhouse inside, but they do not listen and trouble strikes when the bookcase falls, making a mess. The heroes and villain have to clean-up everything after apologizing for their actions. Each of the children morphs into their comic book character with full costume, bulging biceps, and flying powers. The illustrations are vibrant in color and the sounds are captured in large text, such as, "FWOOSH!" This book is a fun read with comic-book illustrations that will capture the reader's interest and heart. 2004, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 4 to 8.
PreS-Gr 2-Over five pages of front matter, a boy playing with blocks is transformed into "American Eagle," shown in full superhero glory on a colorful two-page illustration. From there, alternating spreads switch back and forth between realistic scenes of the boy, his friend, and his little brother-all dressed in superhero costumes-and their imaginary world. When "Bug Lady" asks "American Eagle" for help, the children are shown playing in his house. However, a page turn reveals the larger-than-life duo flying across town as full-grown action stars. Things go too far when the children knock over a bookcase, then hear the ominous "thoom thoom thoom" of Mom's approaching footsteps. In the end, an honest apology and a promise to clean up proves to be a satisfyingly heroic conclusion. Dialogue bubbles work with the cartoon illustrations to add light bits of humor to the action. The youngsters make dramatic statements ("With one mighty blow the wall tumbles like toy blocks"), but also slip out of character ("Mom says no hitting!") just as real kids would. The shifts between real life and fantasy are effective. The regular scenes are neatly framed within single white-bordered pages, while the contrasting superhero pictures fill spreads to their edges with motion and bold color. The result is an appealing splash of adventure, neatly placed within the recognizable world of children's daily lives.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.