The Picture Book Buzz

Superheroes Don't Babysit - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I grew up with two younger siblings. There were times when two of us against banded together against the other one. But the times I remember most are the ones where it was the three of us against the world.

I think just about every child can relate to dealing with a younger child, whether that's a sibling, cousin, or neighbor. And while there are many picture books about siblings and dealing with a younger brother or sister, the added elements of a superhero and a "cause-and-effect" narrative make this a fun and inventive way to examine sibling relationships.

And I get to give you all a sneek peek at this creative picture book which releases next week - on June 2nd.

Superheroes Don't Babysit

Author: Amber Hendricks

Illustrator: Kyle Reed

Publisher: Beaming Books (2020)

Ages: 4-8

Fiction

Themes:

Siblings, superheroes, and forgiveness

Synopsis:

Superheroes leap buildings, chase bad guys, and save the city from the evil Emperor Zog. Superheroes DON'T babysit. Except when their dad asks them to. In an epic battle of sibling rivalry, will this superhero finally meet her match? Or will she find exactly what she's been missing all along?

In Superheroes Don't Babysit, author Amber Hendricks tells a story full of humor and heart, and illustrator Kyle Reed's superpowered illustrations pack a punch with their bold colors and sharp lines. This book is fun to look at and to read with siblings who consider themselves rivals or friends, or maybe something in between.

Opening Lines:

You'll be saving the city

from evil

Emperor Zog when . . .

your dad asks for a favor.

A really big favor.

The BIGGEST of all BIG favors.

He'll ask you to . . .

Why I like this book:

The book's second-person point of view creates the feeling of a superhero instruction manual, which is heightened but the big, bright illustrations, with their occasional comic-book like panels and lettering. It begins with our superheroes father asking her to watch her little brother. After informing her father that "superheroes don't babysit," she gets "that look."

Text © Amber Hendricks, 2020. Image © Kyle Reed, 2020.

I'm not sure who has the "killer look," the father or our superhero when the deal is struck. Trying to make the best of her assignment she sets off to make her brother a snack. But he doesn't want an approved snack, he wants a make-it-himself sundae.

Her pride at his independence and abilities fades when she realizes the mess he's made. And dissolves when she "smells something stinky." After checking the "normal places," she discovers it's coming from . . .

Text © Amber Hendricks, 2020. Image © Kyle Reed, 2020.

I love the safety goggles and gloves and the reality of the mess! Having weathered two adventures, the final straw occurs when her little brother wants to play with her toys. Anyone who's had younger siblings knows what's coming next. Unlike the kids, the text and the illustrations play well with each other. Amber Hendricks simply says there was "an incident" and leaves Kyle Reed room to imagine the problem.

Text © Amber Hendricks, 2020. Image © Kyle Reed, 2020.

Battling against the desire to cry, or scream "I wish you weren't my brother!", she employs the superhero meditation method of counting to ten. Ultimately, it appears even superheroes aren't immune to the cuddly, empathetic younger brothers.

This is a really fun way to deal with having a younger sibling. Kyle's large illustrations, with their bold colors, aged photographs, kid self-portraits & drawings, and household textures, balance out the comic-book like panels and making the book both a bit fantastical and grounded in a child's everyday experience.

I appreciate Amber's sparse text, realistic problems (making snacks, smelly diapers, and a broken toy), and the fact that the superhero is a girl (but I might be a tad prejudiced with regard to this last one). Overall, this is an appealing fresh take on a timeless and well-traveled premise.

Resources:

-- design your own superhero mask & make one for your sidekick (https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/BB/Superhero_Mask_Activity.pdf?redirected=true).

- try a round of Pillow Sumo Wrestling with a sibling (https://playtivities.com/pillow-sumo-wrestling-ultimate-boredom-game/).

- if you could have a superpower, what would it be? Write, or draw, a story of yourself and a sibling as superheroes.

- try some superhero activities - like making & decorating your own cape (https://missmaesdays.com/its-a-bird-its-a-plane-its-the-easiest-home-made-cape-youve-ever-seen/) or make a superhero paper bag puppet (https://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com/2015/02/paper-bag-superhero-kid-craft-idea-free-mask-printable.html).

If you missed the interview of Amber Hendricks on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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