Superheroes is the third book in the Amelia Rules! series and although it is not the latest, it is possibly my favorite- and an excellent jumping on point for any of you wishing to start reading this series, which I recommend that you do if you like wonderful characters, solid writing, snortin’ good humor, and heart-wrenching moments all rolled into one. And who doesn’t? All zombies reading this post, refrain from replying, please. I see you out there, don’t think I don’t!
As Amelia says in the first couple pages, “There is nothing in the world like the last day of school… it feels like time is standing still.” She and her friends are on the cusp of summer vacation and all the breathy magic that entails. They have the wonder of nothing to do for a few months and any number of joy-filled prospects ready to fill that time: there’s the ongoing adventures with G.A.S.P. (the Gathering of Awesome Super Pals), sunset games of tag, sleepovers a-plenty, and even the possibility of a little innocent summer-romance just waiting around the bend. Then Amelia’s mom tells her that they’re moving and all of that starts to crumble apart. Never fear, though, intrepid reader! For change brings the possibility of new wonder and that begins to burgeon as Amelia is introduced to new friends and new opportunities for excitement. One new friend in-particular will really set Amelia’s course for the summer as she has a secret that could turn everyone’s world upside down. What Amelia decides to do about that secret, when she finds out, will play a major role in determining what kind of person she will be.
I’m on a limb here, but I’m just going to say that Amelia is possibly my favorite character in all of children’s literature right now. And what a character- sharp and strong, bitingly witty, devastatingly loyal, but tempered with a simple frailty and plagued by self-doubt. She is someone that is refreshingly original, as far as children’s characters go, and deeply relatable. Her flaws don’t repel us but rather draw us in to her story and make it interesting to know what she will do next as life whips her and her friends back and forth. Accompanied by the fact that every other character in this series is nearly as engaging and I’d say we’ve got a winner here. Readers will find in these pages that comfort that comes from spending time with a group of characters in a story; that comfort that spawns when one feels a part of the group that they are reading about. True, sometimes Gownley gets a little heavy-handed with his themes in this story (at times it feels like you’re being hit in the face with them) but most people will enjoy hanging out with these pages so much that they won’t even notice, or, if they do, they won’t care.
As for the artwork- simple lines that Charles Schulz would be proud of. These iconic faces run the spectrum of emotions through simple strokes of the pen. Perhaps the best part is the word bubbles, which through some creative engineering amplify the story by volumes: sound effects, thought balloons, laugh-tracks, all of them are exaggerated for both comical and emotional impact.
I’m glad I brought up Schulz, because these stories are entirely reminiscent of the Peanuts gang. If Charlie, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and Co. had been allowed to grow up a little and go to middle school, Amelia Rules! would’ve been the result. Come check out this one, as well as any of the other seven books in the series, and I promise you will not be disappointed.