Friday, December 11, 2009

Harley Quinn's Shocking Surprise by Blake Hoena, illustrated by Dan Schoening

This is the newest installment in a chapter book series of Batman and Robin's adventures. In this story, Robin is bored at home, procrastinating on his homework while Batman's out on a call, when the alarm goes off. Robin answers the alarm, falls into a trap, and becomes the main event at Harley Quinn's surprise birthday party for the Joker. With a little help from Batman, Robin escapes and they're ready for another adventure!

There's a little more character development and interaction in this story than in, say Zac Power, but it's basically the same structure - plenty of fast-paced action, a few jokes, and some familiar characters to entice reluctant readers. Readers will need to know some basic information about the Batman story to follow the plot, but there's a quick bio in the back about Harley Quinn, whom not all readers are likely to know. The illustrations are colored full-page spreads highlighting some of the high-action moments of the story.

These are, by the way, NOT graphic novels. I've had multiple people tell me they're comics and they're NOT. They're illustrated beginning chapter books. Just because they're about superheroes and contain colored illustrations doesn't make them a comic or graphic novel.

Verdict: These are fun filler reading for superhero fans and reluctant readers. You can also hand them out to parents who don't want their superhero-fan kids to read comics.

ISBN: 978-1434215628; Published August 2009 by Capstone; Review copy provided by the publisher for Cybils

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