Iggy Loomis, Superkid in Training is a very fun early chapter book for kids. The narrator is Daniel, an elementary school age boy, and the title character is Daniel's toddler brother, Iggy. Daniel has enough trouble sharing a room with Iggy when the main issues are broken toys, temper tantrums, and, well, pee. But after an encounter with aliens leaves Iggy with superpowers, things get really out of hand.
Iggy Loomis, Superkid in Training is a perfect transitional book for kids ready to move on from easy readers, but not quite ready for text dense middle grade titles. The print is big enough to be easy on the eyes (while still feeling grown up), and at least every other page spread features one of more of Mike Moran's cartoon-like illustrations.
Jennifer Allison's writing is kid-friendly in both level of action (high) and tone. Here are the first few sentences of the book:
"I knew it would happen eventually, but I didn't think my nightmare would come true quite so soon. Well, it happened today: My parents decided to move my little brother, Iggy, into my bedroom.
Big deal, Daniel, you're probably thinking. Lots of kids have to share bedrooms with their brothers and sisters and they don't whine about it. A few of them even like it." (Page 3)
I liked how she slipped in Daniel's name without it being boring: "Hi, I'm Daniel, and..." This is quite a departure from Jennifer Allison's Gilda Joyce series, but I do think that her experience in plotting shows through.
There's also a fair bit of dialog from Iggy and his twin sister, Dottie, which I found reasonably toddler-realistic, without being annoying. Like this:
"Why dis not working??!!!! Dis make me so angwy!!!: (Page 5, but shown in the book in all caps in a text bubble)
The text in general isn't slapstick-funny, but it is has kind of a world-weary humor to it that I think will work well with 7 and 8 year olds. Like this:
"Chauncey owns night-vision goggles, high-powered binoculars, and disguises, but playing spy games with him is never fun because he won't share any of his cool spy gear. Besides, he only spies on people who already know he's watching them and who wish he would just leave them alone. What Chauncey enjoys most about spying is making other people mad." (Page 42-43)
And, of course, as long as we're discussing kid-friendliness, there are cool gadgets, weird-looking aliens, and a spaceship that reflects the mental priorities of a two-year-old.
Moran's illustrations add tremendously to the book. They bring to life wide-eyed Daniel, underpant-wearing, bug-eating Iggy, and a refrigerator full of foods made only from broccoli. Most of the pictures are small, integrated into the text, a la today's notebook novels, while others are more like full panel graphic novel excerpts. Fans of the Lunch Lady series will certainly enjoy Iggy Loomis, Superkid in Training. It would also pair well with Ellen Potter's Otis Dooda, Strange But True.
Elementary school librarians will definitely want to scoop up Iggy Loomis, Superkid in Training. It's terrific fun for newly independent readers looking to branch out on their own. It's also boy-friendly without resorting to much potty humor, which the adults may find refreshing. My only real complaint is that while Iggy and Daniel are fairly well fleshed out, I would have liked to know more about Dottie. But perhaps that will be remedied in a future book. And I do hope that there are future books. Highly recommended.
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (@PenguinKids)
Publication Date: September 12, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the author
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