Ladies and gentlemen, I think I’ve finally found my reading stride this summer. After taking some time to totally veg out and mindlessly sit in front of the TV, I’m ready to dive back into reading. (I still plan to spend some quality time with the Winchester brothers, but I’m trying not to let Supernatural take over my entire life. This may be difficult, though, since I just started season four. Hello, Castiel!)
Anyway, after finishing The 5th Wave yesterday, I immediately dove into one of this year’s South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees, The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader. I had already read a couple of reviews, so I was sort of prepared for a story similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Captain Underpants. In a sense, that’s what I got. But The Adventures of Beanboy, in my opinion, is so much more than I thought it would be. This novel, told through drawings and first person narrative from the perspective of seventh-grader Tucker MacBean, has real heart. This is a book that I will be all-too-happy to share with my students, especially those who love comic books and are looking for a hero they can really relate to.
Tucker MacBean feels like his life is spinning out of control. He’s virtually invisible at school, he rarely sees his mom (who works during the day and attends college at night), he has to take care of his younger brother, Beech, and his dad has packed up and moved to Boston. Tucker is desperate to find a way to make things a little better for everyone…and he may have just come across something that will work.
Tucker’s favorite comic book, H2O, is holding a contest to see who can come up with H2O’s sidekick. The prize? The new sidekick will be featured in upcoming episodes, and the prize winner will receive a full college scholarship. Pretty great, right? Well, Tucker gets the bright idea to enter the contest…and try to win the scholarship for his mom. Tucker thinks he’s come up with a great idea for a sidekick–Beanboy, a boy who harvests the majestic power of beans–but how can he prove to the contest judges that his creation has the heart of a true hero…and how can Tucker find the hero within himself?
In Tucker’s quest to come up with the perfect comic book sidekick, he’s also facing the scariest girl at Amelia Earhart Middle School, the terrifying Sam Zawicki. Sam seems to delight in being mean to everyone…except Beech, Tucker’s little brother. With him, she’s almost nice, and that small bit of niceness starts to make Tucker think that there may be more to Sam than anyone knows.
Time is running out for Tucker to enter the contest with the power to change his life. Things will get in the way–his run-ins with Sam Zawicki, finding time to work on his entry, coping with a mom who’s never around (but really wants to be) and a special needs brother (who he dearly loves and will do anything for), a school dance, mean girls, and doing the right thing–but Tucker will do everything in his power to not only enter this contest but win. Is H2O’s new sidekick (hopefully) everything he should be? More importantly, what has Tucker learned about himself as he’s struggled to create a hero? Find out when you read Lisa Harkrader’s The Adventures of Beanboy!
As a total comic book nerd, I really enjoyed Tucker MacBean’s story and his journey in creating Beanboy. I think many of my students will feel the same way. Yes, I plan to market it alongside Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, and even Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, but I enjoyed Beanboy way more than those other books. I think the story was much better developed, Tucker had to really do some research in creating his character (which will help me in showing students how research can help them in everyday life), and this novel gives just a small glimpse into what goes into the creation of a comic book. It also shows readers just how important it is to look past someone’s appearance and attitude to see the person behind the facade. What they find could surprise them.
For more information about The Adventures of Beanboy and other books by Lisa Harkrader, visit http://www.ldharkrader.com/Home.html. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Tucker MacBean and Beanboy soon!