4 out of 4 stars
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Toni the Superhero by R.D. Base is a cute tale of a boy who enjoys life, helps his mom with chores, plays with friends, and coincidentally is a superhero! The idea of a superhero who does, and likes doing, average activities is a clever interpretation of the genre. It teaches children that everyone should help, and enjoy helping, their parents. This is the first book to the series, so it introduces children to Toni and his life. There is plenty of room left in the series for future books to explore Toni’s superpowers or to continue the theme of an average superhero.
The diversity of this books gives it a special place in children's literature. The main character and the author are African American also, many children in the book who are people of color. The children's book industry needs more books by diverse authors about diverse characters and this book contributes to that need.
Another diversity issue that this book tackles and that question of women versus men in the household. The main character is male but is happy to help his mother with chores around the house. This portrayal implies that housework (a job usually attributed to women) is the responsibility of everyone in the house and that people should take pride in these jobs and put forth a valiant effort.
The writing in this book may seem too simple at first for parents or evaluators but the language is one of the best aspects of the book. The simple text is great for children who are learning to read, and repetitive text ingrains certain phrases into their head. This method allows children to feel more confident in their reading abilities since they can recognize phrases throughout the book.
The art style and illustrations in the book are detailed but still fun with recognizable images for kids. The illustrations portray Toni doing activities that he likes, allowing children reading it to put the words to pictures. Ending the book by making it clear that Toni is terrific teaches children that everyday people are wonderful for the things they do. Toni is not terrific because he is a superhero, he is terrific for being a normal kid.
Overall, I would give this book a full 4 out of 4 stars. The book is a great set up book that could easily become a series, it is geared fully toward teaching young kids to read, and it brings diversity to children's books. These reasons lead me to give the book a perfect score.
Toni the Superhero
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