Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Captain Superlative ~ J.S. Puller [@PullerWrites @DisneyHyperion]

Captain Superlative
Disney Hyperion
May 08, 2018
254 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository.or Amazon

"Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!"

Red mask, blue wig, silver swimsuit, rubber gloves, torn tights, high top sneakers and . . . a cape? Who would run through the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School dressed like this? And why?

Janey-quick to stay in the shadows-can't resist the urge to uncover the truth behind the mask. The answer pulls invisible Janey into the spotlight and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a superhero like no other. Fearless even in the face of school bully extraordinaire, Dagmar Hagen, no good deed is too small for the incomparable Captain Superlative and her new sidekick, Janey.

But superheroes hold secrets and Captain Superlative is no exception. When Janey unearths what's truly at stake, she's forced to face her own dark secrets and discover what it truly means to be a hero . . . and a friend.

Superlatives always make me think of Latin class (or the current US President), but now I have something new, wonderful, and much better to associate them with: Captain Superlative.

Jane likes to blend in, to not call her attention to herself, to be the same. "...Then again, no one ever really saw me. I was as unimportant as air. And equally invisible." (pg 11) It might not be exciting but it keeps Jane free from being bullied, from being picked on, from being hurt. And it's working just fine . . . until Captain Superlative arrives.

Showing up to Deerwood Park Middle School dressed as a superhero - cape, masks, gloves, the whole bit - on a chilly January day is not normal. It's definitely different. Just like everyone else , Janey finds herself fascinated by the Captain and wanting to unravel the mystery, but never guessing how much the girl who always seems to be there to help will change Janey's life.

The entirety of this novel is just fantastic. Not only does it deal with Jane's life at school and the larger, more general anxieties and pressures that are part of being a seventh grader, but there is also Janey's relationship with her father and how her mother's death affected them. The author does a truly great job with the friendships in this book - both the current ones of different characters and the varying forms they take, but also those from the past . . . and ones that could be.

The relationships in this story are unique and complex and show us much about the characters - often often more than we, at first, realize. It's not just those eternal relationships that re handled so well: it is also about characters' self identity: their 'thing' and being true to your self, being happy, not being named Bob.

Captain Superlative is all of these great things pulled into a smart  and touching story. It has a good message but never feels like an adult telling middle school aged readers what's right or how to be (even the character of Janey's day, who could do that, lets her figure things out herself). The character are authentic and real and readers both in middle school and not should enjoy this one.

J.S. Puller's debut middle grade novel is funny, it's sweet, it's memorable. Melissa de la Cruz is not exaggerating when she says (as per the quote on the book's back cover), "This beautiful debut novel will make you laugh and cry and want to be a better person."

finished copy received for possible review, from publisher

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