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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Not Your Average Superhero Middle Grades Novel -- Ben Braver

Disclosure: Macmillan Publishing sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Do you have a child in the middle grades (grades 2-5) that loves superheroes? This book is for him or her. It is  not your regular superhero book. The Super Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson. It is the first book in the Ben Braver series. 


Ben Braver is an average kid. He is getting ready to go to sixth grade. His best friend's family had to move away suddenly, so he is not looking forward to the start of the school year until something amazing happens. He ends up in a coma for three days due to a run in with the neighborhood bully and finds out about the Kepler Academy--a school for kids with superpowers. Ben loves superheroes and dreams of becoming one. He can't believe there is a secret school for kids with superpowers!! He decides to go and the adventure begins. Will he figure out what his superpower is? Plus there are some strange things going on at the school. Ben begins to investigate the mystery ghost and then there is the weird illness that seems to be spreading across the campus but no one seems to recover from it. Ben and his friends are off to solve the mysteries. 

Now I will admit I was not too excited for a superhero book. It is not usually my thing, but I wanted to expand to some more boyish books. I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this book. Once the adventure really began it was hard to put down. I can totally see a child who loves superheroes loving this novel. I love that his friends are both boys and girls and that his best friend, Noah, is a different race than Ben (although it is not discussed). 

There are illustrations throughout this novel and then there are comic like illustrations usually at the beginning of a chapter (like the one above). The illustrations add to the story and usually have some of the words in them. The story flows well and is easy to read. Ben deals with bullies, embarrassment and other typical growing up issues. The twist is the superpowers, but the solutions actually can be applied to real life. I love how the book takes every day problems and uses something many kids love to make it interesting. 
This book lends itself to discussions about superpowers and ethics. The school is trying to help the kids control their superpowers and learn not to use them. And of course any superhero craft is fun as well. This is a book that is perfect for the adventure loving kids as well as anyone who loves superheroes. I hope you will check it out.