Making Up Megaboy

Common Sense Media says

A disturbing novel with no easy answers.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Robbie's father doesn't like Mexicans. The murder, of course, but also the self-centeredness of Robbie's classmates.


A boy kills a shopkeeper with a gun. Little in the story, but may provoke strong emotions in the reader.


One brief reference to making out.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this edgy story revolves around the killing of a store owner by a 13-year-old boy. Told in documentary format, it depicts and alienated boy who expresses himself through art. It leaves much for readers to discuss and evaluate, and provides no easy answers.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

13-year-old Robbie Jones has just murdered an elderly storekeeper, and no one knows why. He always seemed like just a nice, normal kid. Through interviews, news reports, and court documents the author reveals the story, but not the reasons. In this brief book with no easy answers, readers are left with much to think about.

The facts are beyond dispute. On the day he turns 13, Robbie Jones takes a gun out of his father's dresser, rides his new bicycle to a liquor store downtown, and fatally shoots the elderly Korean storekeeper. The only question remaining is why--and Robbie won't, or can't, say.

In documentary format, through news reports and through interviews with Robbie's parents, friends, classmates, teacher, principal, counselor, and lawyer, as well as with the police officers and the victim's widow, author Virginia Walter lays down the facts and opinions, then leaves readers to draw their own conclusions.

Is it any good?


This disturbing novel has no easy answers or neat endings. It seems straight out of the headlines, and is likely to provoke great discussions. In short takes, Virginia Walter captures the essence of the personalities involved: Robbie's hard-nosed dad, his bewildered friend, his self-involved classmates. Only Robbie, who is silent throughout, remains an enigma, his feelings expressed only through his comic strip, "Megaboy."

The author only hints at what might have led to this tragedy. No one seems to know this child at all -- not even his parents. The book's short, easy-to-read format, as well as its tough-minded attitude, compelling subject, edgy computer-generated collages, and Robbie's superhero drawings, will appeal to reluctant readers. The graphic design makes the book look both unique and cool, and enhances the ripped-from-the-headlines feeling.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Robbie's actions. Why do you think he kills the store owner? Do you see any way this tragedy -- for the store owner and for Robbie -- could have been prevented? What do you make of Robbie's real-world behavior and that of his fictional alter ego, Megaboy? They also can talk about Robbie's relationships with his family, classmates, and the community. Who knows him well? Who do you think cares about him?

Book details

Author:Virginia Walter
Illustrator:Katrina Roeckelein
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:DK Publishing Inc.
Publication date:January 1, 1998
Number of pages:62

This review of Making Up Megaboy was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byhersonbby March 30, 2009

making up megaboy



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