13 July 2011

Summer Reading: Princess Candy: Tales of a Sugar Hero (graphic novel)

In the midst of a summer when most of the big kids' movies coming out are boy-centric - that is to say, boys lead and girls serve as sidekicks/decorations - Princess Candy: Tales of a Sugar Hero is a welcome reprieve for little girls who would like to see themselves as the hero for a change.

Halo Nightly receives a very special present from her late Aunt Pandora on her eleventh birthday: a box containing jar upon jar of...candy. Each jar is labeled with a Spanish word indicating a force of nature, and as Halo soon finds out, each also bestows upon her a very special superhero power! As Halo navigates through problems that arise at Midnight Elementary School throughout the four stories in Tales of a Sugar Hero, she meets up with superpowered meanies including the Marshmallow Mermaid and cheating teacher's pet Doozie Hiss. Can any resist the do-gooder powers of Princess Candy?

While there are some typical 'little girl' thrills in the book - candy! becoming a 'princess' superhero! crush on a school basketball player! candy! - this snappy comic brings readers into a girl-power world. All of the main characters, including the villains, are girls. And Halo's attitude towards herself is unthinkable - she likes herself just the way she is! (Even if she thinks of herself as 'nice and average.')When Grandma suggests taking Halo to a hair salon so that they can both get their 'hair done,' Nightly politely declines, telling Grandma, "I sort of like the way I am."

These kitschy stories include snappy, tongue-in-cheek humor (some of which only Mom or Dad might pick up on), clean, brightly-colored illustrations, and clearly defined characters. The stories could have used a little more development in places. Halo seems particularly unsurprised to hear from Grandma that a deceased Aunt has left her a birthday present, for instance. And she also makes an offhanded comment once about not having any friends at school. What's that about?  Basketball player Cody semes to like her just fine. I'm also a little curious to know why the candies are labeled in Spanish, since there doesn't seem to be any other tie to the language or culture in these stories. But overall the stories are humorous, colorful and entertaining - a fun read for summer or any old time.

This book is intended for children reading at a primary school reading level, though the interest level is probably for children a little older. I shared it with my daughter, who's entering first grade, and my son, entering third, and neither could get enough of it. They've both been through several of the stories more than once, and spend a lot of time enjoying the artwork as they read. We have a winner!

Publisher's info:
Title: Tales of a Sugar Hero
Publisher: Capstone
Imprint: Stone Arch Books
Pub Date: 08/01/2011
ISBN: 9781434234582
Written by Michael Dahl and Scott Nickel
Illustrated by Jeff Crowther

Disclaimer: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary galley of this book for review purposes. My opinions are solely my own.

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