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Early/Young Readers, Graphic Novel, Interactive Idea Springboard

DEAR JUSTICE LEAGUE by Michael Northrop Illustrated by Gustavo Duarte

Dear Justice League would be an enjoyable independent read for young readers already interested in the heroes of the DC Universe. There over-arching storyline is an invasion of Insectoids from the planet Molt-On. Interwoven in this storyline, each hero receives a fan mail text or email asking a question about some facet of their superhero life. Each hero, in turn, responds to the question he or she receives as he or she is going about the business of defeating the Insectoid invasion.

The questions are a wonderful mix of curiosity, humor and (surprisingly) poignancy–exactly the kind of questions you would get from kids in this target demographic: ages 6-10.

To Superman: have you ever messed up?

To Hawkgirl: Hawks EAT small mammals. Do you?

To Aquaman: do you smell like fish most of the time?

To Wonder Woman: Will you come to my party (birthday)?

To Flash: if yur so fast, how come u haven’t answered this yet?

To Green Lantern: Do you ever get tired of wearing green and black all the time?

To Cyborg: What’s your screen name? I want to play you

To Batman: Have you ever been the new kid in town?

Michael Northrop easily blends the fan mail letters into the larger Insectoid story and Gustavo Duarte’s illustrations are reminiscent to me of Dan Santat’s best work full of color, expression and accessibility to the characters. It has a little more of the Cartoon Network series Teen Titans Go! flavor than the hardcore DC comics. In my opinion, that’s what’s appropriate for this age group.

My only disappointment with the book is that the letters to the two female superheroes do not allow them to respond with the same present-day action situations as the males.  My daughter (now 15) has been an ardent Batman fan since she was 2 years old and was always outraged when someone suggested she might prefer Batgirl. Her response was always “Batgirl is stupid!” I would love for young girls to be able to see male and female superheroes as equally valuable so, while the treatment of Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman roles in Dear Justice League is not unexpected or uncommon, I still find it to be a bummer.

Dear Justice League is a perfect independent read for a young reader who enjoys the action of the DC Universe with a sprinkling of age-appropriate humor thrown in. A bonus is the pages at the end of the book designed for kids to write their own letter to the Justice League (or anyone else, for that matter). It’s a great way to join teaching letter-writing with a superhero culture in which young readers are often already interested.

 

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