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Saturday, August 6, 2016

How To Be a Hero, written by Florence Parry Heide and illustrated by Chuck Groenink. Chronicle, Raincoast. 2016. $23.95 ages 5 and up

"Well, it wasn't enough
for Gideon.

Gideon wasn't satisfied.
He wanted to be a hero.

You know, a hero, with
his name on the front
page of the newspaper.

That sort of thing."

For kids who know fairy tales and dream of being heroic, this is a book that will appeal to their funny bone and their understanding of what it takes to be a hero. The endpapers give us a hint at some of those heroic exploits.  A first glance at our would-be hero shows him from a bird's-eye view, sitting on a brick patio and reading a book. Little expression, red cape intact and wearing a sad countenance, it take a page turn to give a little more information. No one in his house shows expression: his mom and dad are reading their material of choice, paying little attention to his presence.

"He lived in a nice house, and he had nice
parents and lots of toys.


That's enough for anyone."

Or is it? Gideon wants to be a hero, and he thinks he knows what it takes. Quick summaries of those fairy tales that evoke heroism are shared. He wonders if he might need all the skills exhibited by those heroes. Kissing doesn't seem his best option. Perhaps it's being in the right place at the right time!

The daring scene that plays out behind him in the supermarket as he buys a candy bar really has nothing to do with why Gideon is celebrated when he gets to the checkout. He is, however, pleased with his notoriety and is convinced that he is entirely right about being in the right place at the right time. Reading this book is a special treat; it is written with limited text to follow Gideon's thinking. The illustrations tell the rest of the story perfectly. There is so much more to what is happening than what Gideon is discussing. Therein lies the true joy to be found in the tale!

Note every detail, and don't miss the fun that comes from the signage on the commercial street that houses the supermarket where Gideon becomes the hero he so wants to be!

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