Candlewick. Dec. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536217704.
PreS-Gr 3–Graham returns to the world of Max and the Thunderbolt family, a family of superheroes about to welcome a new baby into their crew. Instead of focusing on the theme of bringing home a new baby, this book fast-forwards to focus on little Maxine’s acceptance of and confidence in herself. Maxine develops her mask in the womb, but feels unsure about the rest of her superhero getup when she starts school— four years early—and sees how the other kids are dressed. With some pleading and a prophetic statement, “Things will always be changing, Mommy,” Maxine is able to convince her mother to take her shopping for jeans and a t-shirt to be more like the other kids. As a final rejection of her superhero image, Maxine removes her mask and gives it to a costumed kid at the school fair. In a world where most children long to be superheroes with powers beyond imagining, it’s hard to understand why Maxine would want the opposite, and this pleasingly subverts the usual message of the superhero trope. Maxine’s night time musings about her identity may be years beyond what readers would expect her to experience, but admittedly, she does age incredibly fast due to her parentage. Graham’s humorous artwork shines in this book.
VERDICT Readers may wonder what a scene of flying means for maskless Maxine’s future identity, but no answers are offered. Readers will hope for a third installment, and soon.

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