Thursday, October 14, 2021

Review: Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds

Today's read comes from one of my more favorite authors. While I've especially enjoyed poetry from him and some young adult reads, I was surprised to find this new venture. The blurb also caught my attention on this one—a superhero, whose superpower is to keep others super.

But I won't say anything else. Let's just dive in!

by Jason Reynolds
Illustrated by Raul the Third
Caitlyn Dloughy Books
Middle Grade Contemporary
272 pages
ages 8 to 12

NOVEMBER 30th!!!

From Newbery Medal honoree and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds comes a hilarious, hopeful, and action-packed middle grade novel about the greatest young superhero you’ve never heard of, filled with illustrations by Raúl the Third!

Portico Reeves’s superpower is making sure all the other superheroes—like his parents and two best friends—stay super. And safe. Super safe. And he does this all in secret. No one in his civilian life knows he’s actually…Stuntboy!

But his regular Portico identity is pretty cool, too. He lives in the biggest house on the block, maybe in the whole city, which basically makes it a castle. His mom calls where they live an apartment building. But a building with fifty doors just in the hallways is definitely a castle. And behind those fifty doors live a bunch of different people who Stuntboy saves all the time. In fact, he’s the only reason the cat, New Name Every Day, has nine lives.

All this is swell except for Portico’s other secret, his not-so-super secret. His parents are fighting all the time. They’re trying to hide it by repeatedly telling Portico to go check on a neighbor “in the meantime.” But Portico knows “meantime” means his parents are heading into the Mean Time which means they’re about to get into it, and well, Portico’s superhero responsibility is to save them, too—as soon as he figures out how.

Only, all these secrets give Portico the worry wiggles, the frets, which his mom calls anxiety. Plus, like all superheroes, Portico has an arch-nemesis who is determined to prove that there is nothing super about Portico at all.



This author never ceases to amaze me. Now, digging into the world of middle grade graphic books, he takes an every day kid, Portico, with every day problems and forms him into the most amazing superhero of all...and that with a ton of fun, humor, and reading surprises along the way.

Portico lives in the biggest house on the block, making it almost a castle. Kind of. He has lots of neighbors with quirks, enjoys his life, but suffers from the 'frets'...not only because his parents on the verge of a divorce. When one of his friends has him turn into a pretzel, he discovers his alter-ego, Stuntboy. Stuntboy's purpose is to be super and take on things, which might make those around him less super. But being a superhero isn't always easy.

Yes, this book tackles tough themes kids can relate to—divorce, bullies, etc. But the author manages to turn everything on its head and make it a super-fun way to hit reality. And that in a kid-fashion pure. Portico and his friend have a wonderful imagination, and he allows himself to sink into this 'super' him, not only to deal with his anxiety but to help those around odd ways, maybe. But it's super sweet and kind. Stuntboy is a hero to root for and cheer on the entire way through because he has determination and a true heart of gold even when problems sometimes make things hard.

The set-up of this book is a blast. It's not the usual graphic novel form, but rather, more of a picture book in the form of a middle grade read with some comic areas mixed in. The narration bounces around a bit scatter-brained at times, and then, switches gears into tale fashion. It's an entertaining mix which keeps things from getting to serious and lets the imagination of Portico shine through. The illustrations keep humor high and let Stuntboy's adventure gain goofy, heroic highlights.

Middle graders, especially the reluctant readers in this group, will enjoy this adventure and maybe discover a superhero in themselves.

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