A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Meant to entertain, not educate.
Disappointments can be overcome in unexpected ways. Loyalty to family is important, but so is independent thinking. Working together accomplishes more than working alone. Holding grudges is silly and counterproductive.
Positive Role Models
Though Rafter Bailey and Juanita Johnson come from warring families of superheroes and have been raised to hate each other, they first learn to coexist and then to actually work together to fight a mysterious evil. Rafter and his brother Benny are good-hearted kids, respectful of their parents and large extended family, but not bound by past grudges.
Violence & Scariness
There's mayhem here and there, with the partial destruction of a library and a museum, and cartoonish superhero-on-supervillain violence, but no one ever seems to actually get hurt. There's also considerable hand-to-hand tussling and fighting -- including between adults and kids -- and also explosions, but again, no one gets badly hurt.
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Products & Purchases
Google, SweeTarts, Volkswagen Beetle, Mitsubishi.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Almost Super is a light and funny book about two warring superhero families -- one noble, the other villainous -- and what happens when the three newest members (two "good" Bailey brothers, ages 12 and 13, and one "evil" Johnson girl, 13) learn that the powers they've been given are all but worthless. Going against generations of indoctrination about the families' hatred of each other, the three kids must battle a mutual enemy together. There are mildly violent situations throughout and comic mayhem as the kids' superhero relatives unleash their sometimes unusual powers on each other. But no one ever seems to get really hurt, and much of the hatred between families seems to be bluster. There are menacing chases and some fighting (including tense clashes that pit adults against kids), explosions, and at least one bloody nose, but it's all fairly mild stuff. It's more silly than serious, and, as superhero tales go, this is more in the spirit of the The Incredibles than The Avengers. And it's comically narrated by the older Bailey brother.
Is It Any Good?
Almost Super is a comical story that will no doubt remind some readers of the animated film The Incredibles. It's narrated by 13-year-old would-be superhero Rafter Bailey, and first-time author Marion Jensen does an outstanding job getting the reader into the head of his noble but insecure teen protagonist. The book veers smoothly back and forth between silly situations and genuinely exciting action, but the overall tone is light and nonthreatening. Rafter's matter-of-fact descriptions of his eccentric family members and their powers are a hoot, and he unravels the mysteries at the core of the story in a funny, lively, engrossing way. It should be a relatively easy read for most kids. If there's a downside, it's that the story's not completely resolved by the end of the book, so there better be a sequel!
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.