Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sidekicks, by Dan Santat - superhero pets take over a graphic novel (ages 7 - 12)

Superheroes, pets, friends loyal to the end, and illustrations with enough POW to knock your socks off - it's a winning combination for the new graphic novel Sidekicks, by Dan Santat. I predict that young kids are going to beg their parents to read this aloud to them, and older ones are going to read it again and again, relishing in the action, the exciting story, and the multi-layered details. If you have a child who loves superheroes or comic books, definitely check this out.
by Dan Santat
NY: Arthur Levine Books / Scholastic, 2011
ages 7 - 12
available at your local library, favorite bookstore, or on Amazon
Roscoe the Dog and Fluffy the Hamster might seem like ordinary pets, but don’t let appearances deceive you! They’re the loyal pets of Captain Amazing, protector of Metro City, hero far and wide. But Captain Amazing is having trouble these days, and needs to bring in a new sidekick. He’s determined not to have his own pets serve as a sidekick because of a painful experience years back, and now he just wants to spend time at home. He’s even bought a new pet, a chameleon he names Shifty. But these pets are just as determined to prove their own worth and become Captain Amazing’s new sidekick. So they set out to fight crime throughout the city and learn how to use their own superpowers.

With exciting writing and dramatic illustrations, Dan Santat has created a graphic novel that will have kids hooked from beginning to end, reading it again and again. This story will appeal to both girls and boys because it’s got just the right blend of action, adventure, friendship, humor - all with just the right level of fighting to make the story exciting but not too violent. One child told me it’s “an edge of the page sort of book,” with cliff-hangers that hook you in and make you want to keep reading.

This is graphic novel writing at its best, with interesting details in the illustrations, snappy dialog and compelling characters - a story kids will want to read many times, discovering new story elements each time they read the story. It will pull kids in with bold colors and humor, but it will immerse them in a well-developed superhero fantasy, with detailed setting, compelling plot, and characters that you care about. This will make a great read aloud for younger kids, or perfect independent read for middle grade readers.

Take a look at this fun book trailer. It gives a great sense of what the book’s about and the art style.

If you like this, you’ll want to explore other books illustrated by Dan Santat, like the whacky Oh, No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World and one of my student's favorites of the year: Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies. You’ll also like adventure graphic novels like Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale or Into the Volcano by Don Wood. We’re certainly hoping that Dan Santat has more adventures for Roscoe, Fluffy and Shifty in the works!

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers at Scholastic, but I’ve already purchased three copies for our school library. I predict that they’ll be out constantly, and kids in grades 2 through 5 pass it from friend to friend.

Definitely explore Dan Santat's great website to find out more information about this great book. You can also follow his adventures on Twitter.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

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