Book: Kid Amazing vs. the Blob
Author: Josh Schneider
Age Range: 4-7
In Kid Amazing vs. the Blob, a boy named Jimmy has a secret identity as a crime-fighting superhero. When the "emergency catastrophe alarm" goes off with "an extremely annoying howl", Jimmy heads down through a secret elevator to a high-tech base hidden deep below his otherwise ordinary home. There he dons his special gear and transforms into Kid Amazing! The Commissioner sends him off on a mission that involves confronting his "arch-nemesis, the Blob!". After dangerous encounters with a stink cloud and a slime-covered floor, Kid Amazing finds a way to silence the Blob and save the day.
The joke, of course, is that the Commissioner is Jimmy's mom, the Blob is his baby sister, and her "stink-containment unit" is a dirty diaper. Adult readers will know exactly where the story is going from the first couple of pages. Younger listeners will catch on as the book progresses.
Although I didn't find Kid Amazing vs. the Blob suspenseful, I appreciated the way that Schneider captures the hyper-dramatic way that kids interact with the world. And I liked Jimmy's mom's matter-of-fact acceptance of it. Like this:
"It's the Commissioner.
"What is it, Commissioner?" asks Kid Amazing.
"Jimmy--" says the Commissioner.
"Kid Amazing," says Kid Amazing.
"Kid Amazing," says the Commissioner. "Do you hear that howling? Could you please see what's going on?"
"I'm on it," says Kid Amazing. Who could it be?
And evil giant robot? Those space lobsters again?
No, only one thing could howl such an annoying howl:
Kid Amazing's arch-nemesis, the Blob!
"The Blob! says Kid Amazing. "Don't worry. I'll take care of her.""
And off he goes. The above text covers one side of a single page spread. On the other we see Kid Amazing at the controls of his lair, looking through a screen at the Commissioner, who is washing dishes in the kitchen but wearing a police hat. The lair is shown in blue-gray shading, making it fairly clear what is imaginary and what is real. At least, for those who choose to accept that some of this is imaginary.
Other pages include little insets for "Kid Amazing Gadgets", like trading cards. For example, there's "#55. Mystery Cloth":
"The origin of this mystery cloth is
unknown (although it does bear a
slight resemblance to a missing black
tie). In any event, with the Kid's
brilliant addition of two holes, it
now keeps his secret identity safe."
A small sketch indicates that the Mystery Cloth is an eye mask.
Kid Amazing vs. the Blob is fairly text-dense, but the melodramatic tone should keep it accessible for read-alouds to preschoolers. I think it would work better as a one-on-one read-aloud than for storytime, however, because I see kids wanting to look more closely at the pages, unwrapping what is actually going on in light of what Kid Amazing says is going on.
Kids who enjoy pretending to be spies and secret agents and the like will identify with Kid Amazing, and likely to want to draw their own secret lairs. Kids who have younger siblings will appreciate the perils of stinks and slime, and responsibility that comes with looking after babies. Kid Amazing vs. the Blob is definitely worth a look for the superhero-obsessed set.
Publisher: Clarion (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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