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REVIEWS FOR SUPERHERO ABC:


Booklist (starred review):
"In this ABC book turbocharged with fun for both new and capable readers, McLeod lines up a roster of superheroes kids won't find in existing cartoons or comic books: Astro-Man, "Always Alert for An Alien Attack" despite his asthma; Goo Girl, whose weapon of choice is Great Gobs of Goo; and Odor Officer, monitor of playground farts. McLeod, who has decades of experience drawing for major comics from Marvel and others, has chosen a theme that is well suited to the ABC format, as each entry’s alliterative annotation seems entirely in keeping with the genre’s usual predilection for stylized, faintly hokey text. Also borrowed straight from comics are the onomatopoeic outbursts ("GAA!" "QUUF!") and the skintight (though never overtly revealing) leotards worn by guys and gals alike. McLeod’s adherence to such conventions is precisely what will draw comic-book fans, who will pore over the slick, dynamic compositions on oversize pages, and will savor the occassional, sly references to familiar characters. This book’s superpower? It will dazzle reluctant readers and disappear right off the shelves."

School Library Journal "Book of the Week" 1/29-2/5/06 (starred review):
"An alphabet’s worth of superheroes, from Astro-Man to the Zinger. There’s strong appeal here for the youngest comic-book fans, with many doses of humor along the way. Each figure has special powers, of course, which readers learn about through alliterative captions and action-packed illustrations. Danger Man, for instance "Does Daring Deeds Every Day." A spread shows how "He Duels with Dragons" against a futuristic landscape filled with bright greens, reds, and pinks. The added information that "He Doesn’t Have a Dog!" contributes to the lighthearted tone while extending the alliteration, which effectively emphasizes letter sounds. Many of the characters possess traditionally heroic powers, like Ms. Incredible’s ability to become "Invisible In an Instant." Others are sillier, such as Laughing Lass and Upside Down Man (who "wears his Uniform Under His Underwear"), while the Odor Officer and the Volcano (he "Vomits on Villains") add just the right touch of grossness. There are several females in the bunch, along with one child (Sky-Boy), one animal (Power Pup), and two teens (The Tiny Teen and Tony Terrific, who are Twins). The cartoon illustrations show the figures in action with bold colors, word balloons, and block letters in an attractive comic-book style. Imaginative readers might be inspired to imagine their own alphabetical creations to add to the ranks of Goo Girl, Huge Man, and Multiplying Mike".

Kirkus Reviews:
"Veteran comic-book artist McLeod presents an alphabetical gallery of newly minted superheroes. A can-do crew of hunky men and buxum women (plus the occassional animal or alien) properly decked out in loudly colored, form fitting spandex, these crime fighters bring a range of outrageousabilities to their work. This frothy mix of laughs, giggles and expertly drawn, melodramatically posed Good Guys zeroes in on its target audience with superhuman accuracy and action."

Publishers Weekly:
"McLeod translates his adult comic book renderings for the preschool crowd in this cleverly conceived ABC. Drawn in vivid bright colors that capture the eye, his heroes practically leap from the pages. He represents each letter of the alphabet with an original superhero who saves the day by committing heroic acts that begin with...what else?...that very letter. One character is more inventive that the next. McLeod is not only a master at creating entertaining figures, but also at introducing youngsters to vocabulary words that go beyond the average spelling list, and with phrases ideal for introducing alliteration. In a single bound, McLeod is sure to gain a new generation of comic book fans, and may well entertain his lifelong followers as they introduce their offspring to this clever primer."

Children’s Book of the Month Club:
"Who says you can’t save the world one letter at a time? This fun romp through an alphabet of superheroes will delight children of all ages. With full-color, comic-book style illustrations and hip text, the ABCs are reinforced in a way in which your young reader will identify!"

Kaylee, CBOTMC Editor-in-Chief:
"It’s Amazing! It’s Beautiful! It’s Cool! It’s definitely a book your little superheroes or superheroines will love. And it teaches the alphabet, too! It’s Wonderful! It’s eXcellent!"

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
"The world certainly has room for a new superhero; twenty-six new heroes are even better, and this larger-than-life alphabet book offers alliterative glimpses into the lives of each hero, from Astro-Man ("always alert for an alien attack") to the Zinger (who "zanily zigzags through the zero zone"). The style is comic book all the way, with brassy bright colors, humorous captioned asides (some in speech bubbles), and superheroes in the foreground on every page. Without a whisper of pastel or speck of white space in sight, full-bleed spreads in commanding colors heighten the drama of the brief text and create over-the-top visual feasts of letters, bold shading, and, at the center of the action, a host of unique drawn characters. Listeners are likely to clamor for all twenty-six to be read again, and they will pore over the illustrations long after adults have tired of reading about superhuman vomit powers. McLeod has created a brash and engaging alphabet book whose characters embody the right mix of reassurance, goofiness, and humor that any good preschool superhero should have. Monochromatic blue-toned endpapers provide a gallery of the heroes."

Horn Book Magazine:
"P might as well stand for the page-popping, large-scale Pictures that distinguish this ABC. These more than twenty-six superheroes include both genders and a host of species, imagined and otherwise, alike only in their desire to do good in alphabetical order. The drawing is expert, the page design is dynamic, the colors are attractively lurid, and the humor is deliberately, delightfully dumb."

International Reading Association:
"Superhero ABC provides a new interpretation of the ubiquitous alphabet book. These superheroes are a multiracial pantheon that includes several girls and women. McLeod draws upon literary and artistic tropes in the text and the illustrations. For example, the illustration for "Goo Girl shoots great gobs of goo at gangsters" incorporates alliteration and the visual imagery of the old Batman television series and echoes of costumes worn by comic book heroes. The book is also quite funny and can appeal to those learning their ABCs, those who wish to expand their vocabularies, or those who simply want a visual treat."

Chicago Sun-Times:
"Comic-book superheroes for kindergartners? Why not, if the idea gets them reading? In Superhero ABC, comic-book iIllustrator Bob McLeod presents the alphabet in a dazzling parade -- each letter brings one superhero character with special powers that perform good deeds: "Goo Girl shoots Great Gobs of Goo at Gangsters. This large book features boldly colored comic-book figures sporting the latest in superhero fashion, gaily flying, jumping or marching across the pages. Awesome alliteration abounds as each character is deftly described. Conversation and thought bubbles round out the stunning graphics. Although this book is aimed at the youngest readers, their older brothers and sisters will snatch it away to savor for themselves. It's a sure hit and one that will fast become a favorite."

Children's Literature:
"Each page is vibrantly full-color, with an original superhero showing off his or her skills. The humor is just right for little kids, including a fart joke--who doesn't appreciate a good fart joke? Even if young readers aren't familiar with the superhero genre, the illustrations are exciting and it is fun to read out loud with an over-the-top announcer's voice. The illustrations have an authentic feel, and the heroes come in a variety of skin colors, including red fuzz. This title is a refreshing but still educational change from "A is for apple, B is for ball," and kids will pick up on the reader's enthusiasm."

Ingram Library Services:
"If ever there was an ABC book guaranteed to enthrall today's cartooncentric generation, this is it. The reader is introduced to 26 superheroes that are a feast for the eyes and a boon for the vocabulary. It's amazing how many different ways McLeod finds to say "fights bad guys," and the eye-popping palette will thrill comic book fans."

Cooperative Children's Book Center:
"Twenty-six original superheroes are featured in an outrageously funny alphabet book that has appeal far beyond the ABC years. Astro-man is "Always Alert for An Alien Attack." Goo Girl "shoots Great Gobs of Goo at Gangsters." Powder Pup "Protects Pets from the Pound." The Volcano "Vomits on Villains." Additional commentaries about each of the twenty-six fighters of crime and injustice provide further letter-specific descriptions of their many attributes ("He's Vile! He's Valiant! It's Very gross!"). In fine comic book form, author/illustrator Bob McLeod has created a witty children's book that offers exciting possibilities for classroom use."


Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.:
"The alphabet springs into life as these animated action heroes bound through the oversize pages. Astro-Man is always alert for an alien attack. Although he is awesome, he does have asthma. Danger Man does daring deeds every day, including dueling with dragons. Goo Girl grins and giggles with glee as she shoots great gobs of goo at gangsters. Power Pup protects pets from the pound. Poodles, parrots, and Persian cats think he's purrrfect. Youngsters will love Upside-Down Man. He wears his uniform under his underwear. To some people this is unlawful, unusual, and upsetting. Children may be more upset with Volcano Man, however. He vomits on villains. Very gross. The Zinger zanily zigzags through the zero zone as the book zooms to a close. A great romp through the alphabet featuring colorful, action-filled scenes in a comic book style. An amusing choice for older kids who feel they have outgrown alphabet books."

The Comic Book Bin(By Leroy Douresseaux):

"SuperHero ABC is the first children's book from veteran comic book illustrator and inker, Bob McLeod (who is also a co-creator of the New Mutants).  Ostensibly a book to teach children the alphabet, SuperHero ABC is actually a fun way to increase the vocabulary of children between the ages of 4 and 8.  Bob takes each letter of the alphabet and creates a superhero or super team for that letter.  For instance, the letter "A" gives us "Astro-Man."  McLeod uses the text, through alliteration, puns, and other words of the same alphabet, to give examples of other words beginning with that letter.  Thus, we get something like, "Astro-Man is Always Alert for An Alien Attack."

The Lowdown:  McLeod makes the entire alphabet fun, using a bevy ("B" is for Bubble-Man) of costumed heroes and delightful bursts of word play, with each page a mouthful of alliteration.  He gives us such novel and zany characters as "Goo Girl" for "G," the three-eyed alien, "Jumping Jack" for "J," and "The Volcano" for "V" (who "Vomits on Villains").  The book also marks the first appearance of star-in-the making "Sky-Boy," who may be featured later in his own book.  Bob is an accomplished illustrator, and the art here, drawn in the "cartoony" style, will remind readers of the character design of Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles .

For fans of:  I heartily recommend this to anyone who wants to give a boy or a girl an alphabet-vocabulary book because children do like superheroes - look at the success of 15 years worth of "Batman" animated TV series and film franchises such Spider-Man and X-Men, and also the worldwide box office success of The Incredibles.  Adult fans of children's books and superhero fans will more likely than not also find delight in this."


Cheryl Rainfield:
"Superhero ABC is a fun, non-violent, and clever ABC book that is infused with super-heroism, perfect for any superhero fan or a young one leaning their ABCs. Superhero ABC is so much more than an ABC book--it brings humor, imagination, the fun of comics, and many imaginative superheroes, making it an enjoyable read for superhero fans as well as beginning readers.

On each page, representing a letter of the alphabet from A to Z, a unique superhero appears (sometimes silly, sometimes fun, sometimes inspiring), their name beginning with the letter of that page, moving from Astro-Man to the Zinger. McLeod also cleverly incorporates the different powers each superhero has, as well as character thoughts and dialogue, and editorial comments, with that letter. The brief text appears along the bottom or top of the spread or page, in comic-book font, as well as through speech and thought balloons, and editorial comments. The speech balloons and editorial comments greatly add to the fun, make the book really feel like a comic book, and help make the book both visually and textually interesting.

The text does not read like a story; rather, there are brief linked sentences or hints of scenes where a new superhero and super power is introduced, with the underlying theme that superheroes help right wrongs and protect other people. The text could become clumsy, with most words in each sentence beginning with the letter it represpents, but for the most part the sentences remain crisp, interesting, and work well, bringing a pleasing alliteration. This also helps underscore the letter on the page, and the sound it makes. Readers may want to quickly turn the pages to see what the next superhero can do--whether it'll be as silly, funny, or inspiring as the last. Interest is also increased through various asides.

The speech balloons and editorial comments bring humor--for instance, one of the editorial comments for the letter B, Bubbble-Man, tells the reader "He's Bald!", and in the adjoining page, C, we see the crook caught by Captain Cloud thinking "Choke!" as he's lifted into the sky, and the editorial comment assures us "He's a cowardly criminal!" with an arrow pointing to the crook. This humor is built on and added to through the deft interplay between the text and the illustrations. For instance, on the first spread there's an alien in a spaceship staring and pointing at the human superhero flying towards him, and the alien shrieks, "Aah! An alien!" when, from the reader's point of view it's the opposite.

The superheroes' powers are fun, age appropriate, and never scary; the superheroes all clearly focus their powers on bad guys or on acts of bravery--Danger Man does daring deeds, Bubble Man blows bubbles at bullies, and Huge Man (a giant) likes helping heroes and never hurts humans. Some of the superheroes' powers are aimed at making younger ones laugh, and it's likely they will bring laughs: one hero objects to offensive odors such as farts (which are unnamed but clear through the illustration), another vomits on villains, another wears his underwear over his uniform. Clear distinctions are also made between the good guys and the bad guys, which may soothe some readers.

There is some sexism in the book--there are 21 male superheroes to 9 female heroes (including two females who are paired with males and appear smaller on the page), the female heroes don't seem that strong, and a few have sexist or unattractive roles (such as just swimming through water and appearing attractive, or another whose "power" is that she yells at villains). There are also very few people of color. Still, McLeod has proportionally included more female heroes and heroes of color than the superhero comic industry does. And even with the sexism, I can't help loving the book. (It speaks to the superhero geek in me.)

McLeod's illustrations are absolutely perfect for the book; the illustrations are done in a superhero comic-book style, and are beautifully illustrated. The illustrations have a great sense of space, perspective, proportion, color, and placement, and bring a cheerful, fun feeling to the book. The illustrations are reminiscent of super-hero comics, with the heroes all looking strong, fit, in great proportion, and beautifully drawn, yet they have a child-like quality to them, similar to 90s-style superhero comics, but with big eyes, open faces, bright colors, some exaggeration, clean, uncluttered backgrounds, and a fantastic sense of placement and visual focal point. The superheroes are often (though not always) smiling, and look protective. Body language is strong and expressive, exagerated at times to make it clear what the superhero or villain is feeling (such as sweat visibly slipping off a law-breaker like rain.) There are also two child superheroes to give the younger reader something to identify with or inspiration; that illustration of two children flying through the air makes me feel good just to look at.

Each illustration has its letter of the alphabet in the top left or right corner, in both capital and small letters, in comic-book style font, and that letter is repeated in many of the words both in the text and in the speech bubbles and editorial comments, which encourages letter recognition.

The illustrations feel wide and open, with the important characters always in the foreground, the action always visible. Visual interest is kept in each page through the bright colors, the action (and the interplay with the text), and the movement between full spread illustrations and single-page illustrations, some with color borders, some bleeding right to the edges of the pages. Visual interest is also heightened when, in illustartions with colored borders, some part of the character or letter bursts right through the edge of the border. Creative sound effects are also drawn in huge, cartoonish letters, bringing both a visual and textual interest.

Backgrounds are clean, allowing the figures to pop into the forefront; some backgrounds are simple washes of color, while others have more detail showing landscape, sky, or a room, but never overpowering the character or the action. Backgrounds also have less detail and texture, again allowing the characters to move to the forefront. Fine black lines outline the characters, also making them stand out, the width of the line changing for emphasis. There is also a good use of shading to emphasize body shape, folds of clothing, and light and dark. The illustrations have a smooth feel to them, with texture coming in the most in some setting details, such as trees or mountains. Common comic book conventions are used; besides the speech/thought bubbles and editorial comments, there are also lines used to show movement, action, or loud speech; sound effects written in large letters; spandex costumed superheroes with perfect proportions; and more.

McLeod obviously had fun creating his heroes; the costumes and abilities are all different, yet all clearly fitting the super-hero genre with spandex-like suits of different types and colors. Comicbook fans will enjoy seeing the similarities between some of the heroes in this book and those from popular comic publishers such as DC and Marvel such as the Invisible Woman (think the Fantasic Four), Multiple Man (think X-Factor Jamie Madrox), Hawkman (think DC), and Nightcrawler (think X-Men).

The end papers have headshots of all the superheroes in the book, from A-Z, saying their letter, the illustrations in shades of blue, each illustration in its own comic-strip box. This is a wonderful fun touch, and great design. Another nice touch that again perfectly fits the superhero theme and genre is that the author and publisher names on the inside title page are in speech balloons, as is the dedication, and the author/illustrator is drawn at the back above the author information.

This is a truly fun, delightful ABC book, perfect for young ones and also for comic-book lovers and readers who like superheroes and fantasy. ABC books can sometimes be dull, feel forced, or merely instructive--but this ABC book is unique, fun, and funny--there's nothing boring about it. Highly recommended!"



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