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How to Be a Hero Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Gideon is a nice boy who lives in a nice house, has nice parents, and possesses plenty of toys. He should be satisfied, but he wants more. Gideon wants to be a hero, the kind he sees on the front page of the newspaper. Thinking long and hard about the heroes in the fairy tales he has read, he concludes that it isn't necessary to kiss a princess (or a snoring elderly babysitter) or even to be strong, brave, or clever. Gideon decides that all he has to do is be in the right place at the right time and pay attention. So he goes to the supermarket, where he finds himself surrounded by other customers cheering him on as the 10,000th customer. His picture appears in the newspaper, and he even gets a kiss on the cheek from a girl. Gideon becomes the hero he's always wanted to be. The narrative alone is strong enough, but the true story lies in Groenink's soft illustrations. Gideon is so wrapped up in his candy bar and becoming a hero that he does not notice what's happening in the background. To find out the identity of the true hero in this book, readers and listeners alike must follow Gideon's own advice about keeping their eyes open. This narrative is filled with tongue-in-cheek humor but can be a starting point for a discussion on what makes a hero; educators may want to use it as part of a fairy-tale unit. VERDICT A valuable addition to any collection and sure to please readers and listeners alike.—Betsy Davison, Cortland Free Library, NY
About the Author
Florence Parry Heide is the author of many acclaimed books, including Princess Hyacinth, Dillweed's Revenge, and The Shrinking of Treehorn, which was illustrated by Edward Gorey. She passed away in 2011.
Chuck Groenink is an illustrator who lives with his wife and their two cats in Syracuse, New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
There is something delightfully irreverent about this picture book. It shows glimpses of fairy tale heroes and princes who all become heroes via no skills of their own. Then there is Gideon, a boy in search of fame and acclaim. He is not driven at all by hopes of helping someone, making his search for heroism all the more cynical. As readers watch the opportunity for real heroism literally pass Gideon by, they will realize that it is those who are not searching for fame who are the real heroes. Still, Gideon gets his own taste of fame in the end.
Groenink’s illustrations add to the story. He has small touches in the book that add real life and dimension. While the real life images are more muted, the heroes in the stories are boldly colored and fill the page. That same feel is echoed again in real life when heroism happens at the grocery store. Breaking that moment into steps allows the readers to mistake what is happening at first, deepening the truth about heroism.
A mix of fairy tale heroes, one hero in waiting and one true hero, this picture book is impressive for its tone and attitude, setting it apart on the crowded library shelves. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
It was a promising start. Gideon is a little boy who admires heroes and wants to be one. But the lesson taught here is that heroes don't have to really do anything to earn that title. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.
The worst part is the last portion. He's in the grocery store and a woman holding a baby slips on an apple or something and the baby goes flying. Another person catches the baby. She's the real hero here! But the focus is still on Gideon. He does not see the almost accident or the other person saving the baby. Instead, the focus is on the fact that he wins a prize for being the XYZ number customer! So the person who actually DID something heroic (though I think that simply doing the right thing is not necessarily "heroic") gets zero credit and he's the hero, simply by chance.
What an awful lesson to teach kids. Not only does it not inspire a child to excel and strive to be a better person, but it also takes away from those who do aspire and strive to be better! Not only is heroism just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, but even if you DO something heroic like catching a falling baby, no one will care. Even worse, the person who happens to be just standing there doing nothing but "in the right place at the right time" gets more credit and is more of a hero than the person who actually DID something worthwhile, like saving a baby's life.
Horrible! I actually had to read the last few pages a second time, just to be sure I was reading it correctly!