The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

 
Exciting look at the fun (and fatigue) of being a superhero.

What parents need to know

Educational value

While Awesome Man doesn't set out to teach kids specifically, it does a great job of validating imaginative play and presents alternatives to having a meltdown. 

Positive messages

This book is simply about fun and imagining life as a superhero. There is positive parental influence and a shout-out to children with sensory sensitivities. At one point Awesome Man wraps himself in a tight self-hug to calm down. 

Positive role models

Awesome Man and his alter ego stand up for good and fight baddies while valuing family time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violence & scariness

Simple cartoon violence is on display with positronic rays shooting out of the superhero's eyes to destroy giant killer robots. Bad guys are beat up but unhurt in the process.

Language

The title character says he's "pooped" when tired and acknowledges he likes to say the word "pooped." 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know this is a great picture book for new and reluctant readers. The simple but fun text goes a long way in engaging kids who love to imagine. There is some cartoon violence -- without injury. 

Parents say

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What's the story?

Awesome Man is a busy guy. He's got to fight robots, slimebots, and his arch nemesis Flaming Eyeball, and sometimes he gets so busy he forgets to stop, eat, and chill out for a while. Good thing he has his equally awesome secret identity that lets him take a break from his superhero duties. Readers get to find out all about his adventures and his secret identity, too -- can you guess what it is?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This book is awesome, like Awesome Man. It's fun, exciting, and readers can readily identify with all of the adventures of this superhero -- before they find out his secret identity. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon does a fantastic job of capturing the creative and open qualities of imaginative play. What makes the story even awesome-r is that Chabon doesn't forget the trials of being a superhero -- running out of energy (needing a snack), staving off trashing a city in anger (temper tantrum), and needing a big hug from a superhero's biggest ally, his mom.

The dazzling illustrations by Jake Parker are bright and engaging. They are almost begging to be used as room decorations for superhero fans. The astonishing secret isn't so astonishing, but Chabon's connection to the life of a child is pretty close.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about imagination. Practice changing ordinary activities -- taking out the garbage, cleaning a bedroom -- into adventures by using only your imagination.

  • Awesome Man gets angry and wants to smash stuff, but instead he takes time out and calms down. What do you do when you're angry? What are some of the ways you calm yourself down?

  • Families can also talk about how other people have used their imaginations to create inventions, television programs, movies, and books. Take turns imagining different endings and scenarios to favorite stories.

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Book details

Author:Michael Chabon
Illustrator:Jake Parker
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Superheroes
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Balzer + Bray
Publication date:September 6, 2011
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Read aloud:4 - 8
Read alone:4 - 8

This review of The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man was written by

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Quality

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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; OK 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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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old December 2, 2011
age 5+
 

Fun for younger kids.

My mom checked this out for my 10 year old sister and me (12) to read for fun. We liked it well enough, but I think kids over 8 or 9 years old will find that guessing Awesome Man's identity is too easy. However, for younger kids, this is a cute read, with a fun description of what is would be like to be a superhero.

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