Super Manny! by Kelly Dipucchio (review)
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Reviewed by
DiPucchio, Kelly Super Manny!; illus. by Stephanie Graegin. Atheneum, 2017[34p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-5960-0 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-5961-7 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad 5–8 yrs

No, it’s not a picture book about a male nanny, but a small raccoon boy whose capes empower him to battle a variety of nemeses after school (“When he wore his blue cape, he saved the world from an ocean of unsavory sea creatures”). At school he wears his special invisible cape (a concept that smacks of brilliant parental invention), and when he sees a big kid bullying a little one in the lunchroom it’s that invisible cape that empowers him to say the magic words “Stop it. . . . You’re being mean.” When other kids join in his defense, the big kid backs down (and Manny gets a sidekick). The sequence of Manny’s imagined adversaries goes on a little too long, and the point is unabashedly programmatic (and the other kids’ immediate backing somewhat wishful). That being said, this is a highly topical subject, and the book is realistic about the difficulty of speaking up and encouraging about the value of even a small intervention. The pencil, ink, and digital art moves easily from immersive superhero spreads to portraits balanced by stark white backgrounds, and the superhero theme enlivens scenes with occasional speech balloons without detracting from the domestic realism of the animal schoolkids. This could be a useful discussion-opener, and maybe some young superhero fans will take Manny’s cue for superheroism in their own lives.

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