by Karla Farach
Illustrated by Rob Foote
ages 5 to 8
When Niko starts a new school, he has no idea that he's going to find himself in the middle of an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. Good, nourishing food and evil junk food, that is.
Things are looking chaotic until Niko gets help from Veggieman, a super-cool superhero. Together with his awesome army of fruits and veggies, he helps save the school and all the kids in it. But the most important thing he does is show kids that they each have their own superpower one we all have and can all use.
This is a book with a message—eat healthy food. And it packs this into a fast-paced adventure, full with tension and superhero moments.
Niko walks into school to find a chaotic disaster! Everywhere, students and teachers aren't paying attention but stuffing their faces with chips, candy and such. Not sure what to do, he races to the principal's office, but instead of finding help, Niko runs right into the middle of a junk food takeover. Well, he can't let this stand. So, off he goes to try to save the school. But he can't do it alone and soon, discovers a superhero.
Food mixes with superhero action in these pages and definitely adds new excitement to a well-known theme. Junk food is evil and only superhero veggies and fruits can defeat them. It's a fun twist, and definitely packs a punch. The author, however, also weaves in information along the way to help young listeners/readers understand the reason healthy food is so important. It's a fun way to bring the topic across.
This is a bright and bold picture book, but I wouldn't recommend it to the youngest listeners/readers. There's quite a bit of text on every page and the vocabulary fits more the younger side of middle graders than early readers. It does make a good read aloud, though. And I think this is probably the best way to approach this book, since it's very clear that this book was written with a purpose. By reading it together, discussions can open up. I also see this one as a good insert for homeschooling or other groups, which want to hit upon the topic of healthy eating habits.