The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 2/14/2012
Age range: 9 12 Years
Summary: Tucker MacBean is in middle school. Hes not unpopular, but hes not popular either. Honestly, he does all that he can to just be invisible, especially from the school bully Sam. Tucker rushes home everyday to make sure he takes care of his special needs brother because his mother works and goes to school. Tucker mentions that its almost like she is a ghost. Tucker and his brother love comic books. In the latest issue of his favorite comic, he notices an advertisement for a contest to develop a new sidekick for the superhero. The prize is a full college scholarship. Tucker immediately decides to enter to get his mom the scholarship so she would be home and not have to work so much, but he knows that he can not work on his sidekick drawings at home while also babysitting his brother. To solve this issue, Tucker asks to join the after school art club. His mom sets up a babysitter for his little brother, and Tucker begins art club. Then the worst thing Tucker can think of happens, he comes home and Sam is in his house watching his brother. This leads to a change in Tucker and Sam. He starts to notice the softer sides of Sam and the heroic side of himself. He saves Sam in several situations and finds his heroic heart in the process. All the while, he develops a sidekick based off of beans. The sidekicks story takes shape alongside Tucker, and at the deadline, he decides to submit the entry under his own name.
This was a good book. It touched on some difficult subjects, but didnt go into depth on anything. The transformation of Tucker and Sam is really the best part of the story. Both characters have dramatic changes that bring the story alive. They are characters that you can easily relate to and they are enduring as well. Both characters you can root for. My favorite parts of the book are the little comic drawings that pop up through the novel. They are not necessary for you to understand the book, but they are fun and add another dimension. This is the kind of book that I would happily hand over to a student that is used to reading graphic novels and is uncomfortable reading novels without images. This is a good in between novel that will help ease readers into something else. I would easily pass a student that enjoyed this The Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl by Barry Lyga. That would pull them into a full novel, but it would allow a student to see connections between the two novels. Im always looking forward to ties that I can make between an easier book and a more difficult one. As a teacher, it allows me an easy view of progression through novels. All in all, I would encourage young readers, or low readers, to give this book a try.