by GREG JAMES and CHRIS SMITH
Reviewed by Miss Walsh
STAR RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (but it doesn’t work well as a whole-class read)
RECOMMENDED YEAR GROUP: 4 (that’s who I read it with but it may suit Year 5 more)
INTERESTS: superheroes, villains, school, superpowers, insects, technology
THEMES: friendship, teamwork, good vs. evil, science fiction, single parent family, being an ‘outcast’, secrets, standing up for yourself and friends
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE:
Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty,
My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons,
The Accidental Secret Agent by Tom McLaughlin,
Iguana Boy by James Bishop
MY THOUGHTS: likeable characters, good plot twist but way too long to read as a class novel… Great for an independent read for pleasure though.
The exceptionally ordinary Murph is accidentally enrolled in a school for children with superpowers. As this is his 5th school in as many years due to his mum’s many work related moves, he is less than impressed. As the only human, he is soon singled out, but fortunately falls in with a group of other misfits. Things aren’t great for the group and they get even worse for Murph and Co. when an insect-obsessed villain kidnaps all the heroes. The group of friends, along with the school caretaker, use their odd abilities to attempt a rescue. When the mission is over (you’ll have to read it to see if they were successful!), Murph is formally accepted by the school and the premise for Book 2 is set up.
Lots of relatable themes are touched on in this book, from Murph’s relationship with his single parent mum who is always working, to the feelings surrounding moving to a new school and everything that comes with it – making friends (or not making them), feeling left out, being judged, dealing with bullies etc. The dynamics between the group of friends are realistic and eventually they see the power of teamwork and supporting each other. Murph’s transition from complete bewilderment to team leader is great to read and there’s plenty of humour and a good old plot twist (much gasping ensued when it was all revealed). It does switch point of view at times to the villains story so this book is better suited to confident, able readers who will be capable of keeping track of who’s who and what’s what.
I enjoyed the story: it had just the right amount of silliness and seriousness, and several of my kids bought the book themselves to read along in class and at home. As mentioned above, though, it took ages to read together (most of a term I think), definitely the longest one out of the 11 we read last year, so I would only be recommending it as a personal ‘read for pleasure’ book.