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Butting in on Batty about Books!

This month, I'm crashing Kathy & Maria's awesome Batty About Books partnership and reading along! (Many thanks to both of them for being so gracious and allowing me to share this experience and learn from them too!)

We're reading:

Hardcover307 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Inc. (first published September 1st 2012)
ISBN  0545335485 

Book Info: GoodReads 
Author: Mike Jung
Illustrator:  Mike Maihack

When discussing books on a Google doc, Maria uses purple text and Kathy uses blue
I've joined in with green.  

Here are some snippets from our conversation about the beginning of the book.

The Cover:

I ordered this book for my library based on the title alone, but now looking at the cover I’m completely intrigued by the menacing robot with the awesome purple and red lights.  The author’s name in purple (matching!) really stands out.  I wish I could see all of the back cover better because I’m intrigued by the  flying superhero (who’s partially covered by a barcode that TitleWave placed there) and destroyed building.  Is he good?  Bad?  His expression looks a bit evil (from what I can see).  I know the cover will appeal to my middle grade boy readers for sure.  Most of all, I’m completely excited about reading this book along with 2 readers I really admire! :) 

Sherry, I didn’t even notice the name color thing! On the ARC, Mike’s name is yellow.  Also, the S on Max’s belt is a C! The superhero’s shirt went from an S to a C. I don’t think he’s meant to look mean, I thought he was meant to look Asian! But, what’s the real deal?? If we end up liking this book, I’m asking Mike Jung for an interview (or twitterview!) I agree about the cover! I can already see a great display!

I have the Scholastic paperback edition, so my details are a bit different, I think. It’s funny that the title drew you in. It made me nervous. But so far I’m fairly convinced that I can live with the way the geeks, girls, and secret identities are being handled.

Part 1 (p. 1-99)

I really wish I could remember what made me order this book. Who talked about it?  Where did I see it mentioned?  It’s really unusual that it just happened to come in my library order right before you all started it! :) I got the scholastic ARC at school but maybe Schu or Sharp mentioned? I’d brought it home a long time ago but had yet to crack it open! I think I had seen it on a few “It’s Monday” posts, and I follow several bloggers who write about middle grade science fiction and fantasy. That’s probably where I saw it first.

There is certainly a lot going on in this book:  a flurry of character introductions from the beginning.  I really wasn’t “hooked” from the start, despite the awesome first line:  "
There are four Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Copperplate City, but ours is the only that doesn’t suck."  The pictures are my most favorite part right now (way to go illustrator Mike Maihack!), but I am completely intrigued with the whole “passing of powers” from Mr. Zazueta to Polly.  Also, how weird/cool is it that the super hero alter ego can be completely different?  I agree! This is definitely unusual, and I like it! It’s such an interesting departure from the traditional "masked" super hero characters I’ve been raised with where you can't spot the super hero because of their glasses (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman; Clark Kent/Superman).  I really want to know why Polly doesn't understand the whole Captain Stupendous thing and his powers.  Why does she only get the body but not his thoughts and wisdom?  That’s strange!  She doesn’t really know what to do, but it seems like Vincent and the gang are going to help with that. I was totally hooked on this book. I think it depends on what you’ve read before.  It’s a great lesson for teachers, plan out the reading carefully, a previous novel can make or break the next one! I’m fascinated by this whole alter ego different thing too! I mean, saying some words and the power passes? Maybe you get to become your “own” brand of superhero? You get the basics and you go from there.  What if Professor Mayhem had chosen someone else? Someone not so awesome? Is this also how super villains are made?

It’s also interesting to hear both of your opinions on bias in the characters.  I obviously need to be a more discerning reader.  The thought that kept coming to me was, “I wonder if this will hold student’s attention?  Will they like it?”  I’m trying to put on my middle school boy reader pants for this book...I’m better at reading for 8th grade boys and my high school guys! :)  I’ve grown as a reader by working with Maria! I wouldn’t have noticed HALF the issues without her. (I sometimes wonder if I’m oversensitive. But I talk to a lot of women online, and I know it’s okay to LIKE something that is problematic, as long as you can pay attention to - and discuss - any issues that arise) I’m always on the lookout for overtly preachy or teachy aspects or books that tell more than show.  Working with her has taught me to see more! I can pick out a group of 6th and 7th graders I can give this to, easily! 8th graders would probably already need to be invested since the cover looks so young! I work with strong middle grade readers, and I KNOW this will appeal to the fourth and fifth graders. I have boys and girls who are excited about superheroes, and so far I’m pretty sure they will love it.

I appreciate the dialogue and the capital letters.  I love it when people shout in books and it’s shown this way.  Again, I think middle school students will like Mike Jung departing from what their English teacher expects and tells them NOT to do when writing.  (See, I like to emphasize words with CAPITAL letters too!)  One of the most harped on aspect of the book has been the CAPITAL LETTERS Jung uses. Reviewers thought they were cliched.  But not me, I am all about capital letters and EXCLAMATION POINTS!! As a relatively new comic reader, one thing I notice all the time is the use of lettering to help me get meaning and understand how people are speaking. I think Mike Jung did a good job translating many of those comic nuances into this chapter book. I guess that’s how it goes: what one person loves, another hates.  C’est la vie!

Looking forward to continuing on now that I’m more into the story!  Me too!

Be sure and visit Maria and Kathy's blogs to read their initial thoughts to Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities and our reactions to them as well. They are so good at this book discussion thing!


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