Saturday, January 26, 2013

Batty about Books - Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities by Mike Jung Part 1


Batty About Books
Geeks, Girls and
Secret Identities
by Mike Jung

(Arthur A Levine Books (Scholastic), 2012. 320p. $16.99. 9780545335485)

Genre: Science Fiction (superheroes, killer robots)

Maria (@mselke01) and I (@thebrainlair) are back with our first read of 2013!

And we have a surprise, we'll be joined by Sherry from The Library Fanatic blog! (@libraryfanatic)

Sherry and I have met a couple times in real life!! We are both Indiana school librarians and are on state awards committees. Sherry works on the Rosies which are the Eliot Rosewater Awards for high school students and I work on the Young Hoosiers which are the Young Hoosier Book Awards for elementary and middle schools.  Check out the Indiana Library Federation for more information!

We also added a new element - Cover Talk! We'll discuss the covers of the books before and after we read. How does a cover contribute to or distract from what's inside the book?

Don't forget to check out Maria's Melange (she's writing in purple) and The Library Fanatic (she's writing in green) for their initial thoughts on Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities! Now, on to part one! (And did I mention I'm writing in blue? I am!)

Cover Talk
I know students who loved Sidekicks (both the book by Ferrariolo and the gn by Santat) and The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy will be drawn to this cover. It also reminds me a little bit of The Mysterious Benedict Society books.  I like the looming robot, the way the words look like they are coming at you sideways, and the boys with their matching shirts.  This cover really pulls you in!  I also like the top part of the inside jacket cover “Can knowing the most superhero trivia... be a superpower? If so, Vincent Wu is invincible.” Can the story live up to the cover? I like that quote, too. That makes me think of so many people I know who are just filled up with that kind of trivia. I wish my memory were better - I would be a font of trivia, too! I really love the illustrator on this book. I talk about him in my discussion.

Part 1
I‘m excited to dive into Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities for a couple of reasons: It wasn’t on my Mock Newbery list and I loved the cover.  I hadn’t any clue what it was about but those two reason, plus it appeared on Charlotte’s Library blog post Looking for Kids of Color in MG Sci-Fi/Fantasy books. My goal this year is to read and review more multicultural literature. And not just the slavery/civil rights kind you see around award tables either! Yes! I’d be happy to choose more books from her list. I love her blog - don’t miss her weekly review roundups of MG fantasy and science fiction.

I’ve read some superhero books: Sidekicks by Jack Ferraiolo, Sidekicks by Dan Santat (both of which I’ve used in book clubs), The ExtraOrdinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy (bk 1), and The Quantum Prophecy (bk 1) and they can come in many genres and offer a variety of stories.  I’m hoping this will be something new and exciting to add to the library. I’ve read Santat’s Sidekicks, but haven’t heard of those others. I’ll have to check them out. Don’t miss Cloak Society - that one is fun! Sidekicks is one of my favorite graphics. We have the others in my library, but I haven't read them...yet!

The Opening Line
“There are four Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Copperplate City, but ours is the only that doesn't suck.”  Yes! It sounds like such a middle school thing to say... This immediately pulled me in! - I LOVED this opening line!

The Geeks
Vincent Wu - son of divorced parents, dad’s super smart in a sciency way, and Vincent is tiny and shy! Love his “voice”. He plays with a gyroscope to calm himself down (p20) and “mentally punched [himself] in the face”! He already has my heart. He is endearing! He has a great snarky voice. I like the fact that he isn’t geeky in the same way his dad is. While I love kids to pursue science, it’s nice to see that you can be a geek by just being really enthusiastic about your own passion areas. Yes! We can all be geeks!

George and Max - gotta say I’m a little concerned about these two. I do love that Max is not your typical big, football guy but I also confess I hoped his name was George. Max is such an uninspired name for a big person! I wonder about/am intrigued by the hints of their family life we are getting. Will these be expanded on later?? I wondered about this, too. George’s “fruity” mom and Max’s annoying grandmother and troubled father could bring something to the tale - or they could just be shorthand for making their families all look different from the “traditional” two parent home.  I think the more non-traditional families that are shown in children's literature, the better. I think we're all a lot further from normal than we care to admit!

The Girls
Polly Winnicott-Lee - Love the name, the way she dresses, and the “take no prisoners” attitude.  Strong girl character in the making? I mentioned that the thing I liked best so far is that Polly had already been taking karate for 6 years. Her experiences so far in the story aren't what make her strong - she already was strong. Girl power!

Carla Bing - Stupendite “airhead cheerleader” (35). Airhead and cheerleader do not always belong together. ::calmsdown:: Yep - I don’t bring up this character but I am annoyed by the fact that the boys can’t accept a “girl fan group” without thinking they only care about clothes and make-up. Grr..

The Secret Identities
“You have to do what’s right for everyone but only if it’s right for you.” (93) Discuss.
I like this quote so much. I like the fact that we aren't being told that the only way to be moral is to give up yourself completely. I’m eager to see where this leads.

Beginning Thoughts
So far, so good! I’m enjoying this one and can’t wait to dive into part 2!

Superhero books!
We had a huge discussion on spoilers while reading this first part! Under "The Secret Identities" I allude to what I thought would have been a spoiler to reveal. I hadn't read a ton about the book before reading because it might change my own thinking. It turns out that what I thought was a spoiler had been revealed on a few book buying sites. Each Batty decided how she would handle things and Maria has a great link from the BBC, Spoilers Don't Ruin Stories. I'm inclined to disagree. Though this could also lead to a discussion on the importance (and fun) of re-reading.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Looks like a great book for boys. Do you think middle school girls would like it too?

    1. I do! Polly is such an amazing character! Her role is definitely going to be bigger,

  2. Thanks for the nice mention of my blog! The spoiler here is a particularly tricky one, I think, becuase it is what makes the book one I want to recommend!


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