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BOOK REVIEWS, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Early/Young Readers, Middle Grade Readers, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations

THE SOCIETY OF SUPER SECRET HEROES The Great Cape Rescue By Phyllis Shalant

SSSH! (Society of Super Secret Heroes)

Finch is going into 4th Grade.  He and his three best friends have been playing super-heroes together since 1st Grade.  Finch has even kept his old super-hero cape:  a green towel with lightning bolts on it.

Finch’s sister Mimi tells them: “You’d better not play that baby game when you start fourth grade tomorrow–unless you want to be known as the class losers all year.”  Finch and his friends get carried away at recess anyway and play their super-hero adventure game.  And they are caught doing so by the two meanest boys in their class–two boys who make fun of them.

I enjoyed this story for a couple of reasons:  (1) it is well-plotted, the chain of events is not too obvious; (2) there is an element of magic involved when Finch’s old cape begins to speak to him in his head –and later to his friends as well; and (3) even with the inclusion of the magical element, it is the boys who figure out how to solve their problems without resorting to violence, and still manage to devise their own ways to be “super-heroes” for the people around them.

I think it’s a definite read-aloud possibility for 3rd and 4th graders, maybe even for 2nd graders.  It’s a great choice for an independent read as well.  I think it’s an especially good fit for a child who is interested in super-heroes and/or has a special compassion and interest in helping those around him or her, even on a larger scale (local city, state, national or global focus).

It has a nice subplot involving Finch’s feelings about his parents having divorced and his father remarrying and having another son with his new wife.  This issue for Finch is also resolved in a reasonable, not unrealistic, way with compassion on the part of Finch AND both his parents.

It is a positive story with a positive, helpful message told within a thoroughly enjoyable, easy narrative.  I highly recommend it for young and early middle grade readers.


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