written by Bart King
illustrated by Greg Paprocki
Gibbs Smith 4/01/2014
Age 8+ 288 pages
“Supervillains started quaking in their boots when they heard Bart King was creating a foolproof handbook that would teach superheroes how to interview and hire sidekicks, customize secret lairs—oh, and how to perfect hand-to-hand and foot-to-butt combat techniques! So, if you have a burning desire to fight evildoers, and a bit of allowance money to purchase this book, grab your battle costume disguise and join the fight for good!”
“Welcome to the world of superheroes! I have good news. By reading these words, you just became an honorary superhero. Yay!”
So You Want to be a Superhero (aka About the Book)
It begins at the beginning: you’ve made your decision to become a superhero, fighter of evil, doer of good. Now you need to learn how to act and look like a superhero, starting with your superpower. What will it be? King gives you the 15 most popular superpowers, though there are many, many more to choose from. Then you must act like a superhero. This section gives you situations and asks you to pick the superhero answer. Many answers are further impressed upon your mind through the use of black and white illustrations.
Ways to become a superhero, short of reading the entire The Big Book of Superheroes, includes becoming an orphan, taking your vitamins, and having a rotten childhood. Those are but a few of the ways to shortcut your way to becoming a superhero. Personally, I like “Be a Handsome, Genius Millionaire,” but being hit by cosmic rays works, too. Once you tell your parents you are a superhero, the real training begins.
Know when to fight—and with which weapon—and know when to run, I mean retreat. What does a superhero say? The section called “Zingers and Battle Cries—Speaking Superhero!” will help you find a battle cry, a motto, and how to super trash talk. With super training complete, who will be your toughest foe? Rugrats! That’s right, little kids, some of whom may have their own version of a superpower. You can’t just hold these rugrats at arm’s length and laugh. No, you need to know how to control supertantrums.
You need a supername. One suggestion is to find a cool word and spell it backwards, such as El Carim (miracle) or Repus (super). Repus would be a good name for a feline superhero. Add a “p” and get the name Repups, the perfect name for Repus’s canine sidekick. Yep, animals can be superheroes. Your dog or cat might be on a super mission right now. You also need a costume. Maybe a cape would be good with a utility belt to hold your utilities. The Fantastic 4 have great costumes according to King. The Human Torch had flaming underwear, hopefully not as he wore them.
Superheroes need to know the difference between right and wrong. They need ethics. Can you learn this? Check out the quiz to see where you stand. If you have a secret identity, keep it a secret along with any super powers you may have. Secrecy is very important to a superhero. On the wrong side are supervillains and ethically challenged people. It’s best to keep an eye out for some of the worst. Those would be the jokers, mad scientists, and high school students (the most abundant).
If you want to be a superhero, start with The Big Book of Superheroes. This book is more like a handbook for good rather than a literary book anyone can find in a bookstore (but you can). This book is the superhero’s bible. Everything you would ever need to know to become a superhero is in The Big Book of Superheroes. I like The Big Book of Superheroes. I had never thought of becoming a superhero, but after reading this book/handbook, it is hard not to want to join up forces with the likes of Batman, Superman, and Super Tot. There is a lot of common sense within the pages of The Big Book of Superheroes, such as,
“The more you know, the less you don’t.”
Who can argue with that? One of the best sections is the “Superpower Activity.” These boxed areas contain activities kids can immediately do, including a list of everything they will need. Kids can add to their super costume by making super goggles, utility belts, and power bands. There is even a sneaky way for superheroes to calm a rugrat using a balloon and one command. Kids will have loads of fun with these silly activities. The pop quizzes are not as abundant as the activities, but they are just as much fun for the superhero know-it-all . . . or do they? All answers are included.
The black and white cartoonish illustrations show kids acting out some portion of the text. They are just what I would expect to see in a book about superheroes. The illustrations help break up the text, add humor, and sometimes help clarify the text. King writes The Big Book of Superheroes using text, lists, asides, blue boxes of comic facts, activities, pop quizzes, and comic illustrations, which all keep the book hopping and kids interested. King’s lists, found in every chapter, include things such as,
The 10 Most Underrated Superpowers,
The 10 Lamest Superpowers,
The Top 6 Tips for Parents of a Superhero.
He adds hunks of factual material, such as Superman’s original slogan, and fun comic book facts to teach kids. With Superman’s slogan, King tries to teach kids to come up with their own slogan, motto, or catch phrase. If kids love comics, superheroes, or villains they will love these easy to find snippets by King. These sections are in blue text, making them stand out from the page.
The Big Book of Superheroes, nicely bound in hardcover with bright white pages, is a substantial book filled with enough superhero information to keep a middle grader’s nose between the pages for quite some time. It is the perfect book for kids who love superheroes. Boys may seem the logical choice for The Big Book of Superheroes but girls will like this too. King includes many tidbits and facts about different comic book heroes that I found fascinating. In regards to becoming a superhero by using this book, King wrote,
“Sure, you could read this entire book. But who has that kind of time?”
The same can be said of the book as a whole. No time to read the entire book, pick out the section you want and return later for the others. Readers will not lose any continuity or meaning by skipping around. If more interested in the supervillain, jump towards the back. Interested in superpowers, head toward the middle. Back and forth can become practical. The one thing that bothered me throughout the book is King’s continued insistence on placing the word “super” before other words, making a new word. Some of King’s new “words” include superbreathe, superspeed, superhealing, superhearing, superintelligence, and supergoggles. These words are not supersmart.
Kids and adults who like supervillains, DC comics, and superheroes like Batman, the Fantastic 4, and one of my favorites, Wonder Dog, will enjoy The Big Book of Superheroes. It will keep readers entertained for hours. Reluctant readers will find The Big Book of Superheroes a great choice for summer reading. The Big Book of Superheroes can help readers become the hero they would like to become, while learning new facts about favorite superheroes or previously unknown superheroes. The appendix and bibliography are great places to continue learning about superheroes. The large book is entertaining on every page. Super-Kids will love The Big Book of Superheroes, the newest Big book by Bart King.
THE BIG BOOK OF SUPERHEROES. Text copyright © 2014 by Bart King. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Greg Paprocki. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT.
Read a hilarious review by Erik and Darth Vader, er sorry. An outstanding review by Darth Vader and ThisKid HERE.
Learn more about The Big Book of Superheroes HERE.
**Illustrations by Greg Paprocki, from The Big Book of Superheroes, reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith.
ALSO BY BART KING
ALSO BY GREG PAPROCKI