Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: Sidekicks (Ferraiolo)

Jack D. Ferraiolo
320 p.
Amulet Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2011

Genre: Humor; Superhero Fiction

Summary:After an embarrassing super-sidekick wardrobe malfunction, Bright Boy (a.k.a. student Scott Hutchinson) begins to question the motives of his superhero partner, rethinks an old enemy, and prepares to step out on his own.

What I liked: I definitely think the tween set will like this one. It has numerous martial arts fight scenes, criminal masterminds, betrayal, secret identities, and first love. It is easy to read and moves fairly quickly. In the uncorrected proof copy I have, scenes of plotting villains play out on black pages with white font, a format that will appeal to young readers. I do hope the final published copy will continue using that. 

What I Didn't Like: The erection stuff in the beginning is overplayed. It's not the fact that it is included (certainly young teen boys will sympathize); it is that it is discussed, thought about, shown on television, and used as fodder for school bullies for about the first half of the book. It just gets old. Also, the plot moves slowly at times, but I do not think the youngsters will notice that as I did since it picks up again fairly quickly.

Cover art: The cheesy, brightly colored final cover makes this book look like an upper-elementary read, but with the prominence of the erection jokes and several kissing scenes, Sidekicks is better-suited for a middle school audience.

Language: mild (friggin, freakin, damn)
Sexuality: multiple references to an unfortunate and ill-timed erection; some kissing
Violence: non-bloody superhero fighting; a man is murdered (also non-bloody)
Drugs/alcohol: brief mention of steroids

Overall rating: Recommended for middle school libraries, Sidekicks is a relatively clean, fun read for superhero-loving preteens. Give it especially to sixth grade boys.

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