Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds, drawings by Raúl the Third

Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Raúl the Third. Caitlin Dlouhy/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021. 9781534418165

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Fantasy/superheroes

What did you like about the book? Reynolds’ pitch perfect ear for dialogue and Raúl the Third’s exuberant graphic style art combine for a really fun read. Portico Reeves is a thoughtful boy with a big imagination, and Zola Brawner is his bestie. They live in a giant “castle,” an apartment building with loads of fun characters, portrayed in black and white with splashes of color, kind of like R. Crumb for kids. Portico channels his feelings into a superhero identity he calls “Stuntboy” which helps him deal with the frustration over his parents’ constant arguing and the bullying by Herbert Singletary the Worst, a kid who lives in his building. Along with the soap opera of everyday life, Portico and Zola often imagine themselves as “Mater” and “Pater,” super heroes in a Star Wars-like comic book called “Super Space Warriors.” Then the art becomes a blast of old-school comic book images, with the grain of the old cheap paper as background.

I love the many styles of art and the playfulness of the multiple font sizes, styles and colors. The supporting characters around the apartment building are really entertaining – there’s Gran Gran, who’s always “resting her eyes,” Mr. Mister, who is constantly tying and retying his shoes, and many more. It’s refreshing to see a story where all of the characters are Black and Brown. And sometimes I just laughed out loud at Reynolds’ descriptions, such as when the old people at the block party danced like “ancient children.” The spine is marked “#l,” so fans will look forward to the next installment.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It was a bit tiring to read because each page is really busy, but kids who like lots of art with there chapter books probably won’t mind.

To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 6-10, especially those who like illustrated chapter books or graphic novels.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Definitely take a look.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: December 21, 2021

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