Superheroes Always Fight Back. Or Do They?

Welbeck. Jan. 2023. 32p. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781783128778.
PreS-Gr 2–Arthur lives next to a bully (described as a “baddie”). She laughs when he falls down, ruins his games, and calls him names. He wishes he was a superhero who could “banish baddies back where they belong” with a great big, “KAPOW!” His grandfather helps him see that bullies act the way they do because there’s something more going on for them, like loneliness or feeling unheard. He lets Arthur know that he doesn’t need superpowers to handle bullies and encourages him to use his powers of super kindness instead. When Arthur approaches his neighbor with an offer of friendship, things turn around. Told in rhyming couplets, the story is well-paced and proceeds through a predictable pattern, which is the kind of structure this audience responds to well. Elsom’s illustrations are full of color and movement, with “baddies” depicted as aliens and monsters, which will also have appeal. While the subconscious emotional baggage of bullies is an advanced concept for this age group, and the resolution feels pat, this book could open conversations of understanding between readers and their caregivers. And superheroes are always popular.
VERDICT Purchase where fresh picture books about bullying are needed for young children.

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