A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Matt de la Peña's Superman: Dawnbreaker tells a story of Clark Kent's teen years in Smallville. There's violence, though mostly bloodless. Fight scenes include characters using their fists, firearms, and other weaponry. There's more strong language than some readers might expect: "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "a--hole," and many instances of "s--t." There's mild flirting and one prolonged kiss. One party scene seems to depict underage drinking.
What's the story?
As SUPERMAN: DAWNBREAKER begins, Clark Kent is struggling with the superpowers he wants to keep hidden from his friends in Smallville. Thanks to his super-hearing, he learns that migrant workers are disappearing from town. Teamed with ace journalist Lana Lang, he begins an investigation that leads to his parents' farm. Why are trespassers interested in the Kents' old barn? Before he knows it, Clark is battling for the survival of his hometown, as well as learning the secret behind his own mysterious origins.
Is it any good?
It's tempting to make main characters too good to be true, but this surprising tale of an iconic American superhero gives Clark Kent some interestingly rough edges. He may seem like a Goody Two-Shoes for much of Superman: Dawnbreaker, but when he gets riled by injustice, watch out! Author Matt de la Peña captures the essence of the teen Superman, making his optimism and compassion understandable and exciting.
The immigration subplot is timely, if laid on a little thick. The supporting cast is varied and well-defined, and the usual villain, Lex Luthor, is a more ambiguous figure this time. A lot happens to Clark in only a few days, and there are plenty of twists and surprises in the plot. Comics fans are likely to enjoy the in-depth portraits that prose allows and will see an iconic character from a different perspective.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Superman: Dawnbreaker presents Clark Kent during his formative years. How do you define "hero"? What characteristics do heroes share?
Why does Clark worry about using his powers in front of witnesses? Should people with special talents be expected to help the weak and downtrodden?
Why is immigration such a divisive issue in this country? What kinds of rights do migrants have that protect them from injustice?
- Author: Matt de la Peña
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 5, 2019
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 2, 2021
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