Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Public School Superhero by James Patterson

 I was fooled. I thought that this next book was about a kid superhero called Stainlezz Steel who went about his hood defeating bad guys. the first few pages showed him bragging about defeating heavyweights super-villains.  I thought yes here is someone the kids can root for and he is a superhero of color also! Boy was I wrong.
Yes our hero is a person of color but he is not exactly a titan. Yes he wins the day but no he doesn't have any super powers to speak of. Kenny Wright is a public school kid, and one who lives in a tough part of Washington D.C.  As you can imagine, life is not easy for Kenny; he is street smart but not a hoodrat thanks in part to the unwavering guidance of his grandmother whom he calls G-Ma.

It is an unfortunate fact that in many places in this country public school is not a safe place and this is true for Kenny. His school has had excessive staff turnover, lacks amenities it should have and any one can catch a beat down at any given moment. When a new principal comes along and starts making changes Kenny is surprised when only a few weeks into the school year she is reassigned, something that does not sit well with G-Ma and she won't have it. As if  this weren't enough, Kenny has to dodge various bullies, maintain his friendship with Arthur and shake off a needy kid called Ray-Ray.

After reading this book I was pleased to learn that Patterson collaborated with a graphic artist called Cory Thomas from my home country of Trinidad for the many cool illustrations that pepper the book. (You can check that article here if you are so inclined). There are bullies, school issues and other matters to deal with and sometimes Kenny finds himself in strange situations where he has to think really hard about making good choices. I like how the authors chose to keep the focus of the book on high academic expectations throughout. Kenny Wright is indeed a public school superhero. I recommend this book for ages 9+.

You can read this and other reviews on my blog.

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