I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Project Superhero by E. Paul Zehr, Kris Pearn
Published by ECW Press on September 9, 2014
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Join 13-year-old Jessie as she keeps a diary of her class’s yearlong research project on superheroes, which culminates in the Superhero Slam: a head-to-head debate battle in front of the entire school. It’s shy, comics-obsessed Jessie’s dream come true . . . and worst nightmare. She decides to champion Batgirl, a regular person (albeit with major talent and training under her utility belt), and soon Jessie wonders what it would take to be Batgirl. Will she prove to her best friends, Cade and Audrey, that she’s more than a sidekick? Can she take down archenemy Dylan at the Slam?
Combining science facts, lively illustrations, and comic-book trivia with actual correspondence from superhumans such as NYPD Sergeant Mike Bruen, Olympian Clara Hughes, and Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, Project Superhero is a celebration of the heroes among us and of one girl’s super-secret identity: herself.
*I received an eARC from NetGalley and ECW Press in exchange for an honest review.*
The premise of Project Superhero instantly made this book a must read for me. And when I finished, I wished that I could go back in time and give it to 13 year old me. Actually, I wish I could give it to every 13 year old girl who has ever questioned who she is if her interests don’t fit into society’s stereotype. This story has several great messages and addresses, in a very interesting way, the misconception that boys are better at certain things than girls. I loved that it shows that it’s okay for girls to be interested in comics and science and martial arts. The way it was executed with the combination format of a diary, interview letters, and illustrations was interesting. I think it worked well for the most part.
The focus on superheroes was ingenious! The main character, Jessie, is very into superheroes and there are lots of interesting references made to different comics and characters. It’s very much a finding yourself story. While I liked how Jessie, went about her research to become like Batgirl, she was almost too analytical. But that may be the fact that we only get her perspective because of the diary format. I liked that she researched several different subjects, but I feel that the book got preachy in a few parts like when Jessie was researching nutrition.
Aside from the comic book lore, I loved the interview portions of this book and how each interview fit into what she was researching at the time! And the fact that they are real responses was awesome! Jessie’s research varies from the history of recent women pioneers in several fields from martial arts to scientific principles. Through her research, you can see Jessie grow and adapt to what she is learning in this project as well as what she’s learning about herself.
The illustrations were beautiful and really helped to emphasize Jessie’s character and personality. (Fun Fact: the illustrator Kris Pearn co-directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2!) They were my one of my favorite things about the story. This book contains her side of her interactions with her family and friends, but their characters all seemed two dimensional and not fully developed to me. Her story arc with Dylan especially felt a bit flat to me.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this and it will be a story that I’ll be highly recommending to everyone especially younger teen girls.
Here is a list of the people Jessie interviews throughout the story:
Mike Bruen NYPD (retired)
Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble)
Clara Hughes (Canadian Winter and Summer Olympic medalist)
Brian Miller (writer Batgirl and Smallville)
Christie Nicholson (contributing editor, Scientific American)
Yuriko Romer (film-maker Be strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful))
Nicole Stott (Engineer and US Astronaut)
Jessica Watson (sailed solo around the world at the age of 16)
Hayley Wickenheiser (ice-hockey player and Olympic gold medalist)
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