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Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities Hardcover – October 1, 2012
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Vincent Wu knows everything there is to know about Copperplate City's most beloved superhero, Captain Stupendous. He talks about him at dinner. He does reports on him at school. He is even a founding member of the Captain Stupendous Fan Club. When the hero takes a bad hit rescuing Vincent's not-so-secret crush, Polly Winnicott-Lee, he returns slightly different. He no longer has the skills he once had, and he is nearly pulverized in a rematch with the giant automaton he's bested before. In a last-ditch effort to save Vincent from being crushed, and to escape the battle, Stupendous takes off with the boy in his grasp. There is a revelatory moment when Stupendous unveils his secret identity: Polly. During the last battle Stupendous died and passed his abilities to her. It is now up to Vincent to train her and convince her that what he thinks of as the best gift ever is worth keeping. Jung has created an interesting city with a diverse population, reliant on and in love with superheroes (it has four Captain Stupendous fan clubs). The characters experience a good bit of growth, and kids will get a kick out of a teenage girl transforming into a muscle-bound man when performing herculean feats. The plot, funny and exciting, follows a lot of generic superhero themes. There are occasional mild swear words, which are jarring in a text so otherwise perfectly suited to this audience. For those trying to find some accessible adventure stories with a hint of romance, this is a good additional purchase.-Devin Burritt, Wells Public Library, MEα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
For Vincent Wu, there is nothing as important in the world as Captain Stupendous, Copperplate City’s own real-life superhero. As president of the best (albeit three-member) Captain Stupendous fan club, his knowledge is unsurpassed. Indeed, the only thing to rival his superhero obsession is his interest in one Polly Winnicott-Lee, the best girl in school, in his eyes. So Vincent is understandably perplexed when Captain Stupendous and Polly turn out to be one and the same. But there’s no time to figure it out. Professor Mayhem has kidnapped Vincent’s mother and taken her to his lair beneath stinky Lake Higgleman. Can Vincent, Polly, and friends save the day? Amid the battles with giant alloy robots and alien visitations, Jung explores some interesting curiosities—what would middle school be like in a world where superheroes existed?—and offers some honest and resonant ideas on the matter. With snappy and authentic dialogue, layered plotting, full-on science, and sweet preteen romance, Jung’s boisterous debut is a winner. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of this bunch. Grades 4-7. --Thom Barthelmess
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I read a couple reviews of this saying it was hilarious. Well, I just finished it and didn't even chuckle once. I have no idea what others found funny. Vincent, Max, and George need counseling on how to communicate without exploding at each other. They are constantly yelling at each other and it got on my nerves. Their interactions certainly didn't make me laugh. They worked out a few things by the end of the book, and they do sound like very believable middle school boys, but sheesh. A little too much teenage angst and ego. The new superhero's identity is surprising, but not funny (view spoiler). This person also has issues to work out, a rough family situation, isn't sure they want the whole superhero gig, and while the training could have been humorous, it mostly just shows how insecure and damaged this person is and frequently results in meltdowns. So also not humorous. The showdown with the villain had all the heroes goes pretty much as expected and had just one moment that might make some chuckle (view spoiler). It's a little zany and definitely imaginative, but not really funny. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't gone into it expecting lots of laughs but instead a middle school superhero adventure. It does that well and I already know some students who will enjoy this. So it isn't bad per se, just maybe misrepresented. I also liked all the Asian or half-Asian characters among the heroes, since the school I work at is predominantly Asian and I'm always on the lookout for characters students can identify with.
Notes on content: About five uses of a word that is bad in some cultures but not in others (starts with a p). No sexual content, just some hand-holding. There are some serious head wounds in battles and bleeding and wooziness, but no one dies.
This book is about a world where everything is the same as ours except that superheroes and supervillains are a natural part of everyday life. Personally, books that do that seamless integration of worlds are often my favorite. Now, I am not into huge robots or fight scenes, because, like, I am a grown woman, but I bet that any 2nd grader up to middle grade kid who enjoys adventurous superhero tales would love this book. Jung does some very interesting things, adding in the complexities of family relationships, friendships, first crushes, etc., that really add more depth to your typical superhero story. The main character, Vincent, is your average kid trying to find his way in the confusing world of growing-up, so real-seeming that he practically jumps off the page.
And yes, there is a surprise that I won't reveal but it gives a whole new flavor to the concept of superhero, making this a fresh take on an old, favorite genre.
Awesome action, gigantic robots, a superb super hero, white-knuckle tense fight scenes, strong friendships, kids demonstrating determination, witty dialogue, AND at the end you even get...
Nahhhh, I won't spoil that!
It's a fun, thoroughly enjoyable read, suitable for advanced younger readers or any middle grade kid. The only thing to watch out for is a handful of uses of "pissed off" or some derivation of that. The phrase is used within context, wasn't bothersome and it's not overly distracting. But I'll be skipping it when I read the book with our 6y/o little girl.
I came away with the thought that Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities would be enjoyed by both girls and boys. That's a very positive thing for families. Yes, the "main" main characters are Vincent and his two best pals (3 boys). But the book's most stupendous character is a feisty, rock-star type girl who I think young ladies will love. I'm certain our 6 yr. old is going to dig Polly!
**A quick aside - if you do get this book for a young reader, try to not let them read the Amazon description. There's a bit of a spoiler in there since it gives away Captain Stupendous's secret identity. If kids don't find that out until they read the book, it becomes a much more fun reveal!**
Back to the review. There was one very specific thing I REALLY liked that stuck out to me as I read GG&SI. In Copperplate City where all the characters live, there has evidently been a lot of super hero and super villain action over the years. Our MC Vincent and his best buds know about ALL OF IT. During the story, as a past hero or villain is mentioned, Vincent always mentally lists the special powers of that specific hero and recalls a bit about their background. I loved these creative, unexpected tid-bits and there's plenty more subtle stuff like this all over the book. It's easy to imagine that Mr. Jung was a fan of comics, super heroes, action figures and the like as a youth. And his effective use of these nostalgia-inducing elements really adds to the charming effects of GG&SI because not only will your kids dig it but you'll like the book too!
Oh, and as an `icing on the cake' type of bonus - there are creative B/W illustrations sprinkled throughout the book! These add to the story by helping the reader picture exactly what's happening and what everyone looks like, but they don't overwhelm so you'll still get to use your own imagination to fill in the gaps. The artist's unique style definitely adds to the book's overall excellent design and color scheme. Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities is well made from cover to cover. This may not be important to some but I like to support authors and publishers who truly care about their craft. Mr. Jung, Mr. Levine and team definitely care.
The book's ending sets things up well for sequels which would mean more Captain Stupendous adventures with Vincent, Polly and pals. And if Mr. Jung writes `em, I'll be reading `em! And I bet you will too. Enjoy!
I am lucky enough to know the author, so I promised to ask him one of her questions. She said, "Make sure to tell him I like the book. Tell him I can't put it down."
There you have it. No better compliment.