Review posted November 30, 2012.
Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2012. 305 pages.
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #6 Children's Fiction: Fantasy and Science Fiction
A lot of parents would say it's not productive to know everything last detail about a certain superhero. But for Vincent Wu, the superhero lives in their town and has been keeping their town crime-free and defending it against supervillains for twenty-six years. Unfortunately, his encyclopedic knowledge of Captain Stupendous isn't appreciated. Only his two best friends are in the Captain Stupendous Fan Club (the real Fan Club) and the people in the Official Captain Stupendous Fan Club still pick on him.
But when something happens to Captain Stupendous and he's replaced (think The Santa Clause) by a twelve-year-old girl, well Vincent Wu's encyclopedic knowledge is suddenly very important. Because there's a new supervillain coming against their town, and the new Captain Stupendous is going to need a lot of help to save the day.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. Yes, there are a whole lot of coincidences. Yes, it's something of a comic book geek's fantasy. But it's definitely a fun fantasy, with lots of cleverness and silliness. And I do like that brawn alone and superpowers alone aren't enough to save the day.
I like the way, in this world where superheroes are real, every kid in town has Stupendous Alerts on their cell phones.
Every cell phone in the place started ringing at once, which could only mean one thing. I dug my phone out of my pocket, and sure enough, a text from the Copperplate City alert system.
STUPENDOUS ALERT: GIANT ROBOT. 24TH & BYRNE.
"Stupendous Alert!" I yelled. Okay, a bunch of other kids yelled it too, but I yelled it first, even if nobody heard me.
"That's right around the corner!" George said.
There was a crackly sound from the ceiling, then a voice.
"Attention, Spud's customers, we are on Stupendous Alert. Please stay in your seats. DON'T GO OUTSIDE. Again, we are on Stupendous Alert. DO NOT GO OUTSIDE."
"Let's go outside!" one of the Official Fan Club guys shouted.
Who says a vast knowledge of superhero trivia isn't an important skill? This book was the one I stayed in bed late on Thanksgiving morning to finish. And I got up smiling. Great fun!