Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Arthur works in the superhero business, but let’s get one thing straight: he is NOT a superhero. Others in his multi-racial family can fly, set things on fire, bounce, or possess any one of a myriad of other abilities. Instead, nerdish Arnold is a white guy, sporting a pot belly, who has neat handwriting, and answers the phone. But one day, a distress call comes in and Arthur’s gifts turn out to be the ones that are most needed! He turns out to be Super Nice Guy: able to change the world with a few good deeds. I thought this book was very sweet and Arthur, the kind of superhero we could all use more of. The illustrations have sort of a groovy Yellow Submarine vibe with lots of clever and funny details. Sometimes they appear in panels, suggesting the kinship with comic books; others fill up the whole page. The city Arthur protects is diverse and includes people of all ages and skin colors, even a lady in a wheelchair being pushed by her gigantic and slightly menacing-looking grandson, whom Arthur initially judges too harshly, before leaping in to help solve their problem. Attractive end papers show Arthur dreaming of his future good deeds.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? This good-natured book would be fun to read aloud to children ages 4-8. The detailed drawings might not be well-suited to large groups, but will be a treat to read one-on-one. In a superhero saturated universe, it’s a nice change to think about how ordinary people can help others.
Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: May 2, 2021