The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

Michael Chabon, illus. by Jake Parker. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-191462-1
Chabon (Summerland) ventures into picture books with a tongue-in-cheek superhero story that soars, thanks to energetic and slick illustrations by comics artist Parker. Awesome Man, speaking in companionable slang, describes how he battles villains like arch nemesis the Flaming Eyeball and hangs out with his canine buddy, Moskowitz the Awesome Dog. In regard to his name, he explains, "I'm just basically awesome." But as superhero fans know, great power equals great responsibility: "I have to be careful. I can't start hitting stuff," he says. "I might hurt somebody." When he gets angry, he retreats to his undersea Fortress of Awesome (which looks like a suburban home), sits on his twin bed, and wraps himself "in a ginormous Awesome Power Grip. It calms me right down." Parker (Missile Mouse) usually pictures the hero as an athletic fellow with a shiny mask, trim spandex bodysuit, and impeccable coif, but Chabon drops hints regarding the hero's secret identity, which is revealed in the final pages. Though the story meanders a bit, young caped crusaders and Chabon's adult fans alike will grin at this self-consciously witty portrait. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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