The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention

with Jaylen Craft & Aren Craft. illus. by Jerry Craft. 228p. Mama's Boyz. 2014. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9780979613272. LC 2013915262.
Gr 5–8—Every child dreams of having superpowers and the good they can do with them. The Offenders tackles this idea while taking on the popular topic of bullying. An accident gives five bullies superpowers. Instead of invisibility or the ability to fly, they are given the traits of the kids they torment. When aliens attack the school and threaten the safety of the world, it's up to The Offenders to draw upon their unique abilities to save humanity. Many kids will be turned off by the book's blatantly overt message about bullying (statistics from awareness websites are interspersed throughout) and lengthy explanations of everyday activities come off as didactic. Back matter includes information already known to a wide variety of children including several slang and texting indexes, brief Spanish and Korean glossaries, as well as a custard recipe briefly mentioned in the text. Even though a multiethnic cast of characters will appeal to those serving diverse populations, The Offenders is an uneven addition to an already glutted field of antibullying titles. Black-and-white cartoon-style drawings fit the superhero theme. This is a below-average book tackling issues deftly handled by previous works, such as Eric Kahn Gale's The Bully Book (HarperCollins, 2013) and Lisa Yee's Warp Speed (Scholastic, 2011).—Christopher Lassen, Brooklyn Public Library

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