Picture Book Review: Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker, Illustrated by Eda Kaban

With great power comes great responsibility.  Every comic book nerd (including myself!) knows that iconic line is from Amazing Fantasy #15, the debut of Spiderman in 1962.  Regardless of the superhero, this theme runs through every superhero and super villain origin story in comicdom.  For you Harry Potter fans (again, myself included!) Dumbledore said it best: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

We live in the age of superheroes.  We see them on TV, at the cinema, on our clothes, and at the book store.  My kids adore them!  They, like me when I was their age, pretend to be superheroes in their play.  What fun!    Even though I haven’t specifically talked about it with them, they seem to understand that they can use their powers for good or they can use their powers for evil.  Thankfully they argue over who gets to be the hero.  I keep telling myself that it’s out of a sense of moral obligation, but it’s probably because the villain always ends up with the oldest, most decrepit Nerf guns.

Shelly Becker’s Even Superheroes Have Bad Days takes kids on a wild journey to show how superheroes can use their powers to help others or to harm them.  We see the heroes battling crime and rounding up the bad guys, but we also seem in their moments of frustration.

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Told in rhymed couplets, the story shows us how superheroes deal with stress to keep themselves focused on being positive.  When bad feelings arise a little TLC is in order to keep tempers cooled.  The expressions on the heroes faces are intense yet charming.  The action zips across the pages, pulling the reader’s eyes to the various stories being told on each page.

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The story is great for small children who love the idea of being superheroes.  For kids who are learning to control their own emotions, this book can be a wonderful teaching tool to show them the benefits of being kind and helpful instead of being destructive.

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Yet the most appealing aspect of this book is its diversity.  The superheroes do not expressly represent particular cultures, but the skin tones and facial features of the heroes as well as the non-supers in the story are varied and diverse.  Every child, regardless of background, can find a hero with whom he will relate.  Eda Kaban’s work here is outstanding.  She created a richly diverse world that readers of modern comics deserve to see.  The story could take place in any major metropolis throughout the world.

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The artwork has an old-school, almost crayon feel to it.  The images are crisp and clean, but their is a rough edge to them that reminds me of the cartoons from the late 1970s.  I enjoyed thumbing through the pages to see the art before I ever read the story.

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Young readers will love this book.  Consider using it as a read aloud or as a discussion starter for kids who need to develop their social skills.  The diversity in the book is outstanding and will make the story accessible to all students.  Highly recommended!

Teacher Information

Lexile Lvl 950

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