Book: Superfab Saves the Day
Author: Jean Leroy
Illustrator: Bérengère Delaporte
Age Range: 4-8
Superfab Saves the Day by Jean Leroy and Bérengère Delaporte is a kind of spoof of a superhero story. Superfab is a superhero who is obsessed with costumes. He spends so much time selecting the correct superhero outfit for each occasion that by the time he arrives, someone else has already saved the day. Eventually, people stop calling him. One day, however, a monster comes whom the other superheroes cannot defeat. Superfab manages to save the day because of, rather than in spite of, his fashion sense.
This is a classic trope, of course, in which the hero is able to triumph precisely because of what had hitherto been seen as a liability. And you, the reader, may one day find that the things that make you unique are valuable, even if they don't seem so on the surface.
What I like about Superfab Saves the Day is the way it makes this point while quietly defying gender expectations. Superfab, a male, is determined to be "the best-dressed superhero". He triumphs because the gloves that he made himself are so "SUPER" that a big ugly monster call the Destroyer covets them. How validating for the young boy who cares about his appearance more than society might deem acceptable. And yet, this is conveyed straight up as Superfab's story, without that off-putting feel of some adult writer attempting to wedge some particular message into a child's head. Well done!
Here's a snippet, to give you a feel for Leroy's writing style:
"Everyone got tired of Superfab always being late.
They called him less and less, and then they stopped calling him at all.
Superfab became super-sad."
I kind of want to read this aloud in a "Valley Girl" voice. "Super-sad." Superfab also has a "SUPER cellphone."
Delaporte's illustrations have a hand-drawn, youthful look, rather as though a kid was creating his or her own superhero story. Superfab, in orange slipper and undies with hearts on them, is shown against minimalist backgrounds - the characters being dominant. His cluttered, shopping-bag filled living room quietly fleshes out his priorities.
There's a gently subversive feel to Superfab that I think will please adults, while probably going right over the heads of young readers. This is a book to appreciate more on subsequent reads, as the details that build up Superfab's personality are reiterated. Recommended for anyone who would like to be able to save the day precisely because of the things that make him or her unique.
Publisher: Owlkids Books (@OwldKids)
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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