Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Midway Monkey Madness by Sarah Stephens, illustrated by Art Baltazar

Capstone's DC Superheroes Batman illustrated chapter books have done very well at my library, but I haven't seen another character in that series that I'm willing to add to our series section. I saw some ads for DC Super Pets at ALA and thought I'd take a look at this series.

Midway Monkey Madness introduces us to Beppo the super monkey and the Wonder Twins, Jayna and Zan and their pet monkey Gleek as well as villain Gorilla Grodd. We get a quick introduction to Beppo and his powers (he's basically Superman, only he's a monkey) and then we plunge right into the story.

Beppo is enjoying the circus when he hears screams and finds Gorilla Grodd freeing wild animals from their cages. While the Wonder Twins round up the animals, Beppo and Gleek challenge Gorilla Grodd to a duel - of midway games! They beat Gorilla Grodd, but he cheats and uses his mind powers to lock the monkeys in a cage. Beppo uses his powers and some clever tricks to defeat and capture Grodd and everyone goes back to enjoying the circus.

The story ends with a gallery of super hero pets, super villain pets, a page of jokes, and a glossary. This series seems to be aimed towards younger readers than the Batman series. The phrasing has that sometimes awkward, stilted feel of an easy reader and the book is heavily illustrated. Some younger children might find these fun to read, but I wonder how many of them will be familiar with - or care - about the obscure superheroes. I would say this series is aimed at ages 7 to 9 at the most and none of my patrons of this age group show interest in any superheroes outside of Spider-Man and Batman. Wandering into a larger field of conjecture, I wonder if interest in superheroes in general is dying down - will the kids who are now in grade school be interested in the superheroes of Marvel and DC when they grow up?

Verdict: An additional purchase if you want some lighter superhero fare for your younger readers, but I'll stick to the Batman series for now.

ISBN: 9781404863057; Published January 2011 by Capstone; Review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley

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