Book Review: How to Be a Supervillain

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 12.51.38 PMHow to Be a Supervillain by Michael Fry is a fun summer vacation read — just right for a long car trip. It’s fast-paced and silly with lots of comic-style illustrations.

Twelve-year-old Victor Spoil has two supervillains for parents. They want him to grow up to be evil, but Victor just can’t seem to be bad. He doesn’t even like to make a mess. So they apprentice him to a supervillain named The Smear and send him on a road trip to learn to battle superheroes.

Larrabee flew through this book in the first weekend of the summer and then lent it to me.

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Book Review: Beetle Boy

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 1.44.37 PMWhether or not your young reader is fascinated with beetles, he or she will like Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard. Set in London, it’s the story of 12-year-old Darkus Cuttle, who rescues his father from the clutches of the no-good Lucretia Cutter with the help of his good friends, his archeologist uncle, and some very special beetles.

Larrabee and I read this book aloud together and found it entertaining. The characters are engaging (especially the beetles!), and there is plenty of action. We also learned quite a bit about different types of beetles and their elytra (hard protective sheath wings).

In fact, it’s the kind of book that makes you want to befriend a beetle. We’re looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy.

Book Review: The Imaginary

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 9.53.18 PMYou won’t be surprised to learn that I liked The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold. It’s a book about imaginary friends, after all.

This book came highly recommended by Larrabee, and I agree that it’s a perfect summer vacation read (or read aloud). It’s a British book about an imaginative girl named Amanda Shuffleup, her best (and imaginary) friend Rudger, and the sinister Mr. Bunting, who eats imaginaries. I found it both entertaining and profound.

As you can see from the cover, the illustrations by Emily Gravett are amazing too.

Thank you to Aunt Kay and Uncle Christian who gave this book to Larrabee for his birthday.

And thank you to my own imaginary friends, Little Wolf and Annie, for joining me on many a childhood adventure. I still remember you.

Book Review: Code Talker

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 12.02.30 PMCode Talker by Joseph Bruchac is the story of a Navajo boy who serves in the Marine Corps during World War II, sending messages in an unbreakable code based on his native language.

The narrator and protagonist, Ned Begay, is fictional, but the main events in the book really happened. Blaine and I both enjoyed learning more about this little-known piece of history.

The book is presented as a story told by Ned as an old man: “Grandchildren, you asked me about this medal of mine. There is much to be said about it. This small piece of metal holds a story that I was not allowed to speak for many winters. It is the true story of how Navajo Marines helped America win a great war.”

He then goes back to his childhood. He left home at age six to attend a state-run boarding school where he was forced to cut his hair and required to speak only English. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, he was fourteen years old and too young to fight, but two years later, he joined the Marines. After boot camp, he was sent to code school to learn a code based on the Navajo language. He and his fellow Navajo code talkers played a key role in many battles in the Pacific theater, including on Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. After the war, he returned home and became a teacher, but for many years, he was not allowed to tell anyone about his work as a code talker.

Bruchac says in the Author’s Note that the book “can be read as a parable about the importance of respecting other languages and cultures.” Some of the most interesting parts of the book are its explorations of the differences between Navajo, white American, and Japanese cultures.