How To Be a Supervillain

illus. by Michael Fry. 320p. ebook available. Little, Brown/Jimmy Patterson. May 2017. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780316318693.
Gr 4–6—From the author of the popular "Odd Squad" series and the syndicated comic strip Over the Hedge comes a tale where superheroes and supervillains are real, though their battles, which once destroyed Boston, are now staged like professional wrestling bouts. Our protagonist is the young Victor, a good kid born to supervillain parents. Wanting to please his mom and dad, he signs on as an apprentice to "the Smear," a supervillain whose power is the ability to stain. The narrative takes some strange turns: there are good bad guys and bad good guys, the mysterious Authority that enforces the truce between heroes and villains, helicopter parenting, and a rebellious tween. The various strands of the plot don't always flow together evenly, and readers may feel the book lacks a unifying story line as the boundary between good guys and bad guys becomes blurred. The illustrations, however, keep the tone light, and the irreverent humor that middle graders relish will go a long way to capturing their interest.
VERDICT Superhero fans will enjoy this tongue-in-cheek take on the genre. For large collections.

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