4 out of 4 stars
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Toni the Superhero is a book about a young boy who, whilst being a superhero, also does boring and everyday jobs around the house and garden. For example he reads, cleans the house and washes up for his mum. The book has a simple structure. There is no 'story arc' as such, it simply follows Toni around on a normal day, observing his usual routine. At first reading I confess I wasn't that impressed (primarily because of the lack of plot), however digging deeper I can see the value in what this book has to offer.
It is written in a simple style, with simple sentences. These are all beautifully and colourfully illustrated by Debbie J. Hefke, which provides much needed support for any child learning to read. The illustrations really do make a difference to any book, and Debbie has made a great contribution to the overall feel of the book.
There's an awful lot to like about this book. For starters it's great to have a book which is pitched at the right level for those starting to read more complex grammar. Indeed the book is a perfect 'in between' book, that is it is wonderful for children who have outgrown simple picture books, but not quite progressed to chapter books.
I like the way in which the book sets a great example by having a boy doing housework chores! The idea of having a superhero doing everyday things is clever and will, I'm sure, really grab the average child. I suspect many children will be offering to wash and clean up after reading the book. It begs the question: is Toni a real superhero, complete with magic powers? Or, is he a superhero because he does the chores for his mum so happily? Either way the book leaves a very positive message to all little girls and boys, which moves away from gender stereotyping: boys can do housework too.
I also love the fact that the main character is not white. So many characters are in books for little ones, so it is refreshing to see a black superhero. There should be more of them, and I understand that R.D. Base intends to write more. I do hope so.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I think it is a book which will appeal to many children, and their parents who are looking for a simple, colourful book with a cracking message. Even if you do have to dig a little deeper to find it.
Toni the Superhero
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