Monday, 20 July 2015

Superkid by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

Superkid is a superhero story with a twist. In Claire Freedman's tale, the superhero is there to save children from their everyday troubles: the bully at school, eating healthy vegetables and room tidying, as well as the extraordinary: pirates that make you walk the plank. What makes this superhero special is the fact that he or she is most probably the reader's friend!

The story is told through a series of humorous incidents where Superkid saves the day. The story could be enjoyed simply as a 'read aloud' text to promote a love of books in foundation stage and Key Stage 1. However, it also has the potential for developing children's understanding of character. Although Superkid is quite likely to be a classmate, he also possesses the powers you would expect of a superhero: changing into his superhero costume in an instant, x-ray eyes, flying, making things disappear, putting things in order, rescuing people from evil monsters. 

Like Sue Hendra's Supertato, Superkid utilises some of the features you would expect to see in comic strips, in particular onomatopoeia, e.g. Zapp, whoosh and puff. Sarah McKintyre's illustrations take this one step further. You will find examples of the zig zag frame to indicate something happening quickly, lines after a character to indicate movement, the action of the story told through a sequence of brightly coloured frames. Her illustrations also provide the opportunity to examine how different facial expressions indicate different thoughts and emotions: shock, surprise, fear, relief, delight.

The end papers also merit comment. At the beginning of the book, you have a wordless text which tells the story of a superhero through comic strip frames which again use a number of conventions associated with comics. As such, this provides the opportunity to explore and discuss these features with children before creating their own comic using an application such as comic life. The papers at the end of the story are annotated character portraits: a possible stimulus for work in class.

As you would expect from Claire Freedman, the text is presented as a rhyming story. It is fun and fast paced and could be decoded by children who are working at phase 5 or beyond.

Publisher: Scholastic
Date of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-407124-06-3


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