Well, I meant to post this and many other things last Friday, but things got away from me, as they sometimes do. I'll try to make up for it this week.
Let's start it off with the first book in the middle grade novel series DC SuperHero Girls, Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I am raffling off the same copy I received (because due to random circumstances, it turns out I ended up with two copies of the book).
Other disclosure: I'm Facebook friends with Lisa Yee and she has generously supported a couple of our Bridge to Books events. Our acquaintance with each other has not influenced my review in any way.
Ok! Now that we've dispensed with the formalities, we can get on with the reviewing!
Wonder Woman at Super Hero High is the first in a series of middle grade novels targeted at young readers, drawing upon over 70 years worth of DC Comics history. Veteran author Lisa Yee joins a long list of writers whose task is to reinterpret and reinvent classic characters while trying to stay true to those characters and the world they inhabit. That Yee's task also includes making those characters and their stories conform to the needs and expectations of young female readers adds an extra layer of complexity to her mission to craft a timely, educational, and yet fun adventure.
The first installment of the DC SuperHero Girls books manages to toe the line between canon continuation and accessory to blatant money-grabbing; it manages to fall just on this side of worth-it. Truth be told, if I had room in the house for more action figures, I would probably also spring for not only the $10 action figures, but the $20 foot-tall dolls--of which there are 6 of each so far. I'm certain future books will require quite a range of strong female super heroes and villains in doll and action-figure format.
The story opens with gossip: the inexplicable expulsion of a student appears to coincide with the arrival of a new one, Wonder Woman, sparking rumors that their principal got rid of someone just to make room for her--and just in time for training to begin for the Super Triathlon. Though ecstatic at no longer being homeschooled (ha!), Wonder Woman comes to doubt whether she can really fit in with her classmates at Super Hero High. Her desire to attend the school stems from a deep commitment to saving the world, but things start to go wrong pretty much as soon as she arrives. A flying exercise goes embarrassingly awry. Her roommate, Harley Quinn, seems welcoming and excited about her admission to this elite institution, but she mostly seems thrilled at what Wondy's appearance (yup, they call her Wondy, ugh!) has done for her reality-video webcast's ratings. And while her mother's golden cuffs protect her from projectiles and laser beams, they can't protect her from the insidious, nasty little notes that seem to appear whenever something bad happens.
Yee covers a wide range of topics relevant to the middle school set: academic anxiety, friendship troubles, crushes on cute boys--the works. The characters range from mainstream (Raven, Beast Boy, and Lois Lane, with an oblique reference to Superman) to the more obscure (well, I'd never heard of her before, and I'm not going to tell you who it is now, as that would be a spoiler!) and fitting, without forcing them, a multitude of archetypes into the middle grade milieu. Her signature sense of humor pervades the storytelling and keeps the book balanced between light-hearted hijinks and the serious business of protecting and serving the world.
The strong girl characters populating WWaSHH are diverse not just racially, but also in terms of their interests and skills, as well as how they react to and deal with problems. Savvy young readers may also be intrigued by the idea that villains go to school side-by-side with heroes at Super Hero High. All in all, Wonder Woman at Super Hero High is fun, funny, and friendly introduction to the super-heroines of DC.
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