Reviews for Captain Superlative!

by J.S. Puller

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Seventh-grader Jane Silverman becomes a sidekick to the girl in her middle school who has taken on a fearless superhero persona. Narrator Janey, who's white, and her classmates are witness to the constant bullying that alpha girl Dagmar, also white, inflicts on their classmate Paige, who is African-American ("For as long as I can remember," Paige tells Janey, "Dagmar's been awful to me"). Dagmar's star status at the school keeps her from being recognized as the bully she is until Capt. Superlative appears in the hallways, performing generous acts of kindness, courage, and recognition. Janey, who has been flying under the radar since her mother's death from cancer a few years earlier, discovers through some sleuthing that the girl in the homemade superhero costume is a classmate, Chinese-born Caitlyn Li. The two girls team up to offer study guides and mints, door opening and other small courtesies, and general encouragement to the student body. Revelations abound, including the reasons behind Caitlyn's act, which hit Janey hard, and behind Dagmar's bullying of Paige. Ultimately Caitlyn, Janey, and Paige heroically disrupt Dagmar's reign of terror and create a legacy for Capt. Superlative. This fairly believable middle school drama is punctuated with poignancy and humorbut the casting of the one African-American character as victim and the masking of the book's other significant character of color sound discordant notes. Ambitious but of mixed success. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-7-Seventh-grader Janey likes being invisible: if you can't be seen, you can't be a target. Classmate Paige is in queen bee Dagmar's bullying crosshairs-at least, until the day Captain Superlative appears to show everyone a better way: "Be nice! Help others! Stand up!" Janey has to wonder if the girl with the mask and the blue hair is crazy. With a little sleuthing, Janey figures out the Captain's secret identity and is reluctantly convinced to accept the role of sidekick. Little does she know that she herself will end up being Captain Superlative's biggest accomplishment. Puller's debut novel opens with a prologue taking place at a memorial service, so it's no spoiler to reveal that the Captain's days are numbered, and her determination to go out leaving a legacy of small acts of kindness is more than just a way to avoid being forgotten. Although Janey's voice frequently wobbles, sounding more like an adult than a middle-schooler, and there is no way a student would be allowed to wear a cape and mask to a real-life middle school, the story is at its best when the Captain is standing up against meanness and pointing out that "different is good." -VERDICT Buy where realistic fiction for tweens is in demand, especially where students are looking for Wonder readalikes with a similar "Choose Kind" message.-Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In this two-hanky debut, seventh-graders get schooled in the value of kindness when a new student arrives dressed in cape, mask, and purple wig, sailing down the halls and grandly declaring it her mission to make all troubles disappear! Emotionally fragile, having lost her mother to cancer three years before, mousey Janey finds herself inexorably swept up in the Captain's wake, designated a sidekick, and with increasing self-confidence, joining in the campaign whether it involves simple acts like holding doors open for others and passing out calming mints before big tests, or escorting quiet classmate Paige between classes to shield her from the savage bullying of A-lister Dagmar. Though Janey only gradually discovers who the Captain is and how she finds the courage to engage in such freaky behavior, Puller gives readers strong hints from the outset by opening with a memorial ceremony and framing Janey's narrative as a recollection. The author, like many first novelists, also positively packs in subplots. A worthy message delivered with heart, humor, and hardly any preaching.--Peters, John Copyright 2010 Booklist