4 out of 4 stars
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Superheroes are among us, going about their daily lives and often doing things we ourselves like to do. While that has always been the case with any traditional superhero story, Toni the Superhero manages to show readers this in a very direct and understandable way. The author, R.D. Base, managed to create a simple story about Toni, who is shown doing many things in life that children can relate to. Why is he a superhero? The question to me seemed obvious and hopeful: He is a superhero because he is himself, enjoying his day to day life and interacting positively with others. For the sheer ease of reading and take away messages that could be attributed to it, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Debbie Hefke’s lovely illustrations help to bring alive the easy-to-learn sentences on each page, making it an interesting book to look at if you are either a child (or the adult reading it with them). There are small but important details in the images that, as an adult reader, catch one's attention. Specifically, there are a couple instances when the superhero, Toni, does not have his costume or cape on. Yet it is never implied that he is no longer a superhero simply because his clothes have changed. Also, never in this story is Toni claimed to be a superhero because of external influences, be it radioactive spider or otherwise.
As a reader, I believe these important but subtle tones hold this book above many others. While a child can certainly learn to read the words and follow along, they can also relate to Toni. They can aspire to be like Toni as well, which thankfully doesn’t necessitate any powers beyond their control. The reader instead sees Toni engaging with his friends, community, and family, and as a direct result see him also find enjoyment in many things in life.
For parents, this book is one that you could read every night and, thanks to its brevity, not tire of. Again, it’s relatable and encourages positive behaviors. However, it is possible that if their children are fans of more traditional “superhero” stories, this book may either fall flat, or result in questions about what exactly “makes” Toni the superheroes they are used to. It also may be considered a negative that when we initially meet Toni, it actually shows him flying in the air, potentially negating many of the aforementioned insights one could have taken away from the story at hand.
Toni the Superhero is short and sweet. It can help kids learn to read simple sentences and has engaging visuals to match. There is also room to take away a humbling and important message in spite of such simplicity: Everyone, Toni and any child alike, can be superheroes in their daily lives. This reader hopes to see the idea expanded upon with further books in a series, to better flesh out who Toni is, saving the world or otherwise.
Toni the Superhero
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