4 out of 4 stars
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A book targeted at beginner readers, Toni the Superhero is a short children's story about a boy with a very active imagination. Teaching children to read in a fun way, Toni the Superhero is, more than anything, a book that helps your child show that the real superhero can be someone who listens to their hardworking mother and helps around the house to make everybody in the family happy. That said, Toni does also have some very special superpowers - seen in the book when he is flying, and always hinted at as he wears his superhero mask and cape. Toni is illustrated with all his important elements on the cover, uniting the two aspects of him - the 'everyday' and the 'superhero'.
The title might seem a tad misleading at first. Toni 'the Superhero' scarcely exhibits any superhero behaviour that we would expect in a superhero genre. Instead, most of his time is dedicated to sweeping the floor, vacuuming, dusting, even hanging out with his friends and swimming!
However, the key to Toni isn't in him being in any way superior to his peers. Toni is a young superhero, but first and foremost he is a kid that likes to have fun and spend his time with friends and family. The unique thing that the author, Northern Maryland-based R. D. Base manages to do, is make Toni someone that children, his readers, can look up to. She paints a picture of someone who is caring, loving, conscientious, and not at all dependant on what sets him apart from everybody else - for better or for worse.
Wherever Toni is in the story, the colourful, bold and big illustrations help showcase that. I think that's especially helpful with the young children the book is meant for, as it helps capture their interest and connect words with pictures; beginner readers might require a parent reading to them, but elementary school-aged children could be making their way through the book all on their own. There is a certain lack of plot for a reviewer to write about, as the book mainly only follows Toni in his everyday activities, but that doesn't do any harm to the book itself. It's meant to be an educational tool, and it fulfils that role just fine.
I give this book a firm 4 out of 4 stars for all reasons listed above, and for being a progressive work in its own right. I do not have any serious negative notes on it, except for perhaps wishing it had a more varied sentence structure, or that we saw Toni engaged into an (educational) adventure. As it is, the book is an excellent stand alone, or a beginning of a young superhero series.
Toni the Superhero
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