The cartoonish competitors of professional wrestling may well attract some kids, but that interest alone hardly guarantees that young readers will warm to the flabby and pasty-complected hero of this inexpert effort. And perhaps they shouldn't. Although the Masked Maverick is presented as an underdog because he's booed by the crowds at his matches, he invariably and viciously trounces his opponents. His efforts to gain audience sympathy don't work: He hands a flower to one challenger, following it up with ``a flying drop kick''; he enters the ring in a silly costume of pink hearts, then slams his giggling foe ``onto his head in a perfect piledriver.'' Only when the Maverick's disguise is ripped off by the villainous Brooklyn Bonecrusher--and M.M. flies into a rage to defeat B.B.--does the audience cheer. Never does the Maverick understand why his allegedly kind gestures failed, and Ogburn's ``be yourself'' message comes off as ``might makes right'' instead. Readers untroubled by the violence will find a hint of sleaze in descriptions of the Maverick's black leather and red silk headwear; neither is there much to recommend Carlson's ( I Like Me! ) willy-nilly illustrations. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)
The author, a resident of Durham, North Carolina, loved wrestling as a child. The book's hero is a hooded wrestler flamboyantly dressed, who fights fairly, succeeds in the ring, but is depressed by the way the crowd boos him. He tries everything, but his audience doesn't become fighter-friendly until the Maverick is unmasked and becomes a real person. Fighting terms will please young wrestling fans and the surprise ending will delight the unsuspecting listener.
PreS-Gr 3-The Masked Maverick wins all of his matches in the American Wrestling League. He beats opponents such as Hammerhand Hannibal, Mad Dog Markowitz, and the Brooklyn Bonecrusher. When he wins, however, the crowds just boo and hiss. Wishing to be popular as well as tough, Maverick follows advice from his manager. He throws flowers to the crowd and tries wearing a heart-covered, pink costume, but still hears only jeers. The solution to his problem is fairly predictable, but there is great fun in the way the world of wrestling is depicted. Gimmicky trademarks such as the ``Mad Dog Moon Howl'' and the sledgehammers wielded by Hammerhand could easily have come straight out of the World Wrestling Federation. Full of drop kicks, piledrivers, and armwringers, the matches are lively and action packed. Carlson's illustrations add much of the humor. She includes the crowds in many of the match scenes, showing the individual reactions and personalities of the fans. The Masked Maverick is a must for devotees, but a wider audience will enjoy the amusing story and colorful presentation.-Steven Engelfried, West Lynn Library, OR
This cheery picture book is targeted at children for whom watching wrestling has become as easy as flipping on TV. Although the Masked Maverick is a good wrestler and his costume is wonderful--tall, red boots, a long, black cape, and a black mask with red flames he stitched on himself--audiences don't clap and cheer for him. They only boo and hiss. Several times he tries to change his image (even donning a white costume with pink hearts), but nothing works (when Mad Dog Markowitz laughs, Maverick turns him into mincemeat). It's not until his mask is ripped off by the Brooklyn Bonecrusher that Maverick discovers how best to please his fans. Hurrah! The art and text work extremely well together. Carlson's zesty, colorful cartoonlike illustrations are perfect for Ogburn's broad comedy. They capture ringside routs in all their slam-bang silliness, along with a host of stereotypes (wrestlers and fans) that children usually glued to TV will easily recognize. A wacky send-up that might convince a few TV junkies that books have definite possibilities.