Joe "used to be scared of everything." At night, his bedroom closet seems to overflow with menacing items, including ravenous-looking gym shoes and a cobralike belt. But then he realizes that clothes could make the man and creates a superhero outfit to give himself courage. Attired in a "Cape of Confidence" (a bath towel), a "Torch of Radiance" (a flashlight), a bike helmet, and other accoutrements of invincibility, even the spooky basement doesn't faze him--he retrieves a mop for his mother and saves the kitchen floor from motor oil peril. Barrett's (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) terrific pictures, with their crisp outlines, yellow-orange hues, dramatic lighting, and cross-hatching, hearken back to the comic book art of the 1950s; Joe goes from a 67-lb. weakling to a dynamo capable of wide-legged poses worthy of any action figure. Unfortunately, Weitzman's (You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum) self-esteem message is a bit heavy-handed ("Now I know the light switch to the basement is just at the bottom of the stairs"), and Joe's imaginative conceit gets neutralized in the book's final pages. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
K-Gr 2--When Joe's parents call for help, he is ready. The boy confides that he used to be scared of everything but not any more. Inspired by his comic-book heroes, he has devised superhero gear (Cape of Confidence, Helmet of Invisibility, Power Gloves, and Super Gravity-Defying Boots) to cope with the frightening situations in his life. Wearing his protective gear, he uses the Torch of Radiance to light the way into the basement, locate the sponge mop for his mom, and save the day. On a more realistic level, Joe tackles his fears by knowing the location of the light switch to the basement, where the caring grown-ups are when he needs them, and that his closet is relatively monster-free. Barrett's line drawings are rendered in ink and colored digitally. The crisp text is hand lettered. The graphic-novel format and retro atmosphere mimic the comic books whose heroes Joe emulates. Weitzman acknowledges the boy's feelings and provides imaginative solutions followed by more practical ones. An upbeat, humorous selection.--Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN[Page 88]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.