Thursday, May 7, 2015


Jack D. Ferraiolo
Amulet, 2011
Grades 6-9

Scott, aka Bright Boy, is having a bad day.  In the middle of an epic battle with nemesis Rogue Warrior he has an embarrassing costume malfunction, while saving a beautiful woman, that goes viral and makes him the laughing stock of the city.  The next day Scott can hardly bear the shame and rude comments he hears from his classmates who have no idea that the quiet kid in their midst is actually Bright Boy himself.  Bright Boy is the sidekick to Phantom Justice, the most famous superhero in the city, and is blessed with two super abilities: speed and strength.  Phantom Justice is not sympathetic to Bright Boy's concerns about his costume and is annoyed at Bright Boy's adolescent angst.  Bright Boy manages to get out some of his frustrations during a battle with Dr. Chaotic, Phantom Justice's arch enemy, recently escaped from prison, and his sidekick Monkey Wrench.  Imagine Scott's surprise when both he and Monkey Wrench loose their masks in the battle and his foe turns out to be a pretty and popular girl from his school named Allison.  Scott and Allison have much in common and develop a friendship, which slowly turns into romance.  Things are looking up for Bright Boy and the public adores the clandestine lovers.  But all is not as rosy as appears at first glance.  Phantom Justice may not be who Scott thinks he is and he may be in mortal danger--from those whom he trusts the most.

Sidekicks is a fast paced and fun adventure story involving interesting villains, dashing heroes, and twists and turns in the plot.  The action never stops and Ferraiolo takes us on an exciting and bumpy ride.  The plot contains surprises that prove to be very cool and unexpected.  Although possessing super powers, Scott is a regular teenager who readers will relate to, imagining themselves having these rollicking adventures.  Throwing in the character of Allison/Monkey Wrench serves to add a bit of innocent romance and make the book accessible to girls.  The book is written in the first person from Scott's point of view, so we see the plot unfold through his eyes.  The reader is allowed sneak peeks into what Phantom Justice is up to.  These sneak peeks are told on black paper in white print in order to not confuse the reader.  Because of the nature of Scott's embarrassing costume malfunction and the romance in the story, this book is really not appropriate for kids under sixth grade.  The cover makes the book appear to be for a younger audience than it is really intended for.  That said, the book reads quickly, has exciting adventures galore and humorous episodes.  Reluctant teen readers will eat it up.  "Superheroes" will be the summer reading club theme for many libraries across the nation (including mine) and Sidekicks will be a great literary link to the theme for teen readers.

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