Summary: Zach’s superhero dad is vanquished by one of the “Bads” and passes on his powers to his son, though the concept of powers and superhero status are new ideas to Zach. Zach has a brief face off with a school bully over Zach’s best friend, Kate (almost a sister, not quite a girl friend). As Zach feels compelled to investigate his father’s death, he meets mysterious Mr. Herbert who enlightens Zach to what his father was. There’s weird tension between Zach’s “Uncle” John and Mr. Herbert and also between Uncle John and Senator Kerrigan who Zach’s mom is campaigning for.
Personal Reaction: This was one of the only disappointments from Lupica I’ve read. I am annoyed with all the evasions instead of explanations and the ending wasn’t what I wanted at all. The bully comes and goes, the training comes and goes, the superhero test comes and goes… it just felt like this was only the first half of a longer story.
Points for discussion with children: good vs. evil (including thoughts vs deeds), “with great power comes great responsibility”
Possible classroom uses: This could be read aloud, but probably not correlated to any curriculum.
Connections to other books? I’ve enjoyed many other sports stories by Lupica, with Heat being on the SSYRA list a few years ago and Travel Team being a student favorite. I enjoyed Powerless by Matthew Cody; for a slightly older audience, go for Super Human by Michael Carroll (gr 7+); or NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (Book One) by Michael Buckley for a younger audience (gr 3-6). The Marvelous Effect by Troy Cle is commendable as well.
Realia: silver dollar, model airplane, backpack, map & photos of NY Central Park, American flag (any size)
Food items connected to story: Starbucks hot chocolate, meatloaf, ice cream, pizza,