Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Adventures of Beanboy

The Adventures of Beanboy
Lisa Harkrader
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012
$9.99, Hardcover
May 5th, 2012

Genre: Realistic
Age: 9+
Description: Tucker MacBean has a lot on his plate. His parents got divorced which forced his mom to go back to school to get her degree. She’s busy working during the day, going to school at night, and studying the rest of the night away. She hardly ever has time for Tucker or his younger nine-year-old brother, Beecher, who is a special needs student. Tucker’s day is pretty busy with school, racing home to meet Beecher’s bus, watching and feeding his brother, doing homework, and getting them to bed on time. He also is scrounging up all the loose change they have in a pickle jar in order to hopefully save up enough money to allow his mom to quit her job and go to school during the day so she’s home with them at night. When he discovers an ad in his favorite comic book, H2O, advertising a contest for one lucky winner to draw H2O’s next sidekick, he gets excited. He’s always loved comics and drawing. He’s got plenty of ideas to work with. Plus, the grand prize is a full ride scholarship. His dreams of winning the contest and giving the prize to his mother are dashed, however, when he learns that the prize is nontransferable. Therefore, his mom is going to enter the contest instead—she just doesn’t know it. Being that he’s always been made fun of for his last name, he creates Beanboy—the first comic book character to truly harness the power of the bean for good. He is strong, relentless, can double in size
overnight (if given enough water), and can fly with the use of, well, that other thing beans are famous for. With the help of the school bully, Sam, babysitting Beecher after school, Tucker is allowed the chance to join Art Club to work on his submission piece. Along the way he finds out that Sam isn’t as tough as she appears (and begins to become friends with her) and realizes the what makes a true heart of a superhero as he places his submission in the mail with his name—not his mother’s—on the entry form.
Opinion: Of course, there is a happy ending to this story (Tucker’s mom actually wrote an essay about being a single mother in college and got a scholarship that way while Tucker wins the contest with a background story for Beanboy that actually changes the whole origin story of H2O himself!) but it’s fun overall. The author is also the illustrator and we see Tucker’s doodles throughout the book, as well as pages from his entry submission so we can see the adventures of Beanboy as they unfold. This is a great book that combines some serious real life issues (divorce, bullying, poor kids, the struggle of single parents, etc.) with the humor of comic book characters and actions. Give this to readers who like action stories who will also be pleasantly surprised at the additional depth the story has.

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