Great Illustrated Books


By Dan Santat

Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011
Pages : 224
Suggested Ages: 8 and up
ISBN: 9780439298117

A superhero, smart pets with incredible powers, and a story told in graphic novel format are all sure ways to captivate young readers’ hearts!

Captain Amazing decides he needs a sidekick when, while trying to collar four supervillains, he falls and crashes into a peanut vendor, triggering his peanut allergy. “GAH!” Meanwhile, TICK TICK TICK TICK, his dog, hamster, and chameleon are at home waiting for him, arguing just like any siblings. Their rivalry intensifies when they each decide to audition as Captain Amazing’s sidekick despite his proclamation: no pets. As he trains, Fluffy the hamster gets himself into a tight spot and needs rescuing. Luckily, a street cat comes to his aid. No ordinary stray, Manny had worked alongside Captain Amazing before getting hurt and running away. Manny’s reappearance is timely because, if the pets can work together, it is going to take the brains, brawn, loyalty, and heart of all four to help Captain Amazing in an epic battle against his worst foe, Dr. Havoc.

Shifting perspectives and panels in varying lengths and sizes capture the adventures. The text is perfectly interspersed and appears against the white background of speech bubbles, leaving plenty of room for action sequences. The illustrations are glossy and somewhat reminiscent of the Art-Deco style. The palette reflects the mood and helps set the pace as it changes from warm golds and oranges to more ominous blues and blacks. The fight with Dr. Havoc is dynamic (HAHAHAHAHAHA), explosive (BOOM-CHOOOOOO!), and suspenseful (“FLUFFY! WHEREARE YOU?). If they all survive, will they be able to make peace among themselves? The last homey two-page spread tells it all.

In this brilliant graphic novel, Dan Santat slyly brings new meaning to conflict resolution. Children will relish the romp but the deeper content will stay with them, giving them plenty to think about.

This offers a free preview as well as a downloadable PDF that includes character sketches, deleted chapters, storyboards – everything, as the author says, useful to understand how a comic book is made.

Reviewed by : JMcD


If you love this book, then try:

Hunter, Erin. Into the Wild. (Warriors series). HarperCollins, 2003.

Lupica, Mike. Hero. Philomel, 2010.

Deutsch, Barry. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her SwordAmulet Books, 2010.

Scieszka, Jon. SPHDZ(Spaceheadz series). Simon & Schuster Children, 2010.

Critics have said

"Full of inoffensive broad comedy, and providing a number of characters to relate to, Sidekicks is perfectly enjoyable."
School Library Journal