Thursday, May 7, 2015

MIDDLE GRADE REVIEW: The Incredible Three and A Half Superheroes by Frank Schmeiber

by Frank Schmeiber, translated by David Wilson


The top secret, totally true adventures of the child superhero team, the Incredible Three and a Half. Most superheroes hide behind masks as they battle against injustice in the world and, for their own protection, their true identities are kept top secret. But for reasons beyond his control, incorrigible sixth grader Sebastian Appleby-Krumble is forced to write down his exploits as part of the superhero team the Incredible Three and a Half. The Incredible Three and a Half Superheroes is a humorous, behind-the-scenes tale of the action-packed adventures of Sebastian, otherwise known as the Brain, and his friends Barbara "Action Barbie" Bakewell, Martin "The Chameleon" Koslowski, and Martin's imaginary friend Dickie, "The Chicken." Young readers will find out why Aunt Hilda's birthday ended in disaster; why Dolittle, the class hamster, wound up wearing camouflage; and how Sebastian was almost arrested while wearing a giraffe costume. Most importantly, they will discover why everyone must protect the secret identities of the Incredible Three and a Half to save the world from danger!


I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I mean there were some funny parts where I snickered at Sebastian's snarkiness.  But mostly I groaned at the stupidity of most of the characters and Sebastian's Aunt Boadicia was just plain annoying.  The comics that were mixed in with the text were a nice touch and young readers who enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books may very well like this.  Sebastian (The Brain) is similar to Greg in a lot of ways with a big ego that doesn't match up with his ineptitude.  And I did enjoy Sebastian's friends, Martin (The Chameleon) and Barbara (Action Barbie) with their 'superpowers'.  The superpowers were a nice touch, Sebastian with his photographic memory (which he hardly uses in the book much to my annoyance), Barbara with lightning fast reflexes, and Martin, who no one ever seems to notice added to the humor of the book.

The strong British flavor of the book I rather enjoyed, I just don't favor books where the main characters are so foolish.  Of course, pretty much all the characters in the book are foolish and do stupid things which may well appeal to some young readers.  As long as you don't expect much of a plot or intelligent characters, you may find things to like here and there are some funny one liners.

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