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Text Difficulty:2 - 3
About the Author-
- Florence Parry Heide is the author of many acclaimed books, including Princess Hyacinth, Dillweed's Revenge, and The Shrinking of Treehorn, which was illustrated by Edward Gorey. She passed away in 2011.
August 8, 2016
Heide is as incisively funny and slyly chatty as ever in this posthumously published story of a cape-clad boy named Gideon, who wants to be a hero: “You know, a hero, with his name on the front page of a newspaper. That sort of thing.” The more he studies the literature (aka fairy tales), the more he realizes that most heroes are simply “at the right place at the right time.” Take the story about “this kid finding some seeds or beans or something like that and they grow up to be a great big vine and he climbs up and finds some neat things.” (Heide’s half-remembered recaps of classic fairy tales are among the book’s finest and funniest moments.) Gideon’s revelation manifests at the grocery store in a wonderful bit of misdirection that grants him his wish and reveals actual heroism taking place in the background, blithely unnoticed by him. Working in the warm, rich hues of once upon a time, Groenink (Rufus the Writer) nimbly shifts between suburban ordinary and fairy tale extraordinary while vividly portraying Gideon as a self-possessed kid with an eye for the main chance. Ages 5–8.
What does it take to become a hero?From a tilted airborne angle, the opening double-page spread shows brick houses and tiled roofs in faded reds and warm grays. Where's Gideon, the "nice boy" in this "once upon a time"? He sits in his yard, tiny and barely noticeable, wearing a red cape that barely registers. Gideon's life is unsatisfying, and although he soon appears larger--especially when dismembering and stabbing teddy bears--he's unsure how to become a hero. Must he be strong, brave, and clever? Must he kiss someone? Imagining scenes from familiar fairy tales like "Cinderella," Gideon concludes that he need only "be in the right place at the right time" and "pay attention." So he does--except he totally doesn't. Heroism possibilities appear left and right; Gideon's oblivious. Then a briefly wordless supermarket scene unfolds with heroism-related twists and hilarity. Someone's definitely a hero, but is it Gideon? Heide's third-person-very-limited narration follows Gideon's unmindful perspective while the illustrations show far more. Groenink uses pencil and Photoshop to create warm, low-saturation scenes with an old-fashioned lilt, using color judiciously in fantasy scenes, such as varying purples during a dragon-killing, or on Gideon's nose, which is sometimes peach-skinned like the rest of his face but sometimes dark red, plum, or purple. Classical references (Propp & Bettelheim Quality Butchers) add a layered spark. Heroism with a wink. (Picture book. 3-6) COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
October 1, 2016
K-Gr 2-Gideon is a nice boy who lives in a nice house, has nice parents, and possesses plenty of toys. He should be satisfied, but he wants more. Gideon wants to be a hero, the kind he sees on the front page of the newspaper. Thinking long and hard about the heroes in the fairy tales he has read, he concludes that it isn't necessary to kiss a princess (or a snoring elderly babysitter) or even to be strong, brave, or clever. Gideon decides that all he has to do is be in the right place at the right time and pay attention. So he goes to the supermarket, where he finds himself surrounded by other customers cheering him on as the 10,000th customer. His picture appears in the newspaper, and he even gets a kiss on the cheek from a girl. Gideon becomes the hero he's always wanted to be. The narrative alone is strong enough, but the true story lies in Groenink's soft illustrations. Gideon is so wrapped up in his candy bar and becoming a hero that he does not notice what's happening in the background. To find out the identity of the true hero in this book, readers and listeners alike must follow Gideon's own advice about keeping their eyes open. This narrative is filled with tongue-in-cheek humor but can be a starting point for a discussion on what makes a hero; educators may want to use it as part of a fairy-tale unit. VERDICT A valuable addition to any collection and sure to please readers and listeners alike.-Betsy Davison, Cortland Free Library, NY
Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Starred review from September 15, 2016
Preschool-G *Starred Review* Gideon knows that having a home, toys, and nice parents should be enough, but it's not, because Gideon wants to be a hero. Perhaps his red cape is a giveaway, or the drawings of knights plastering his bedroom walls, or maybe the pile of impaled teddy bears he's dispatched with his wooden sword. Groenink adroitly captures such everyday scenes in marvelous, muted pencil illustrations, but the colors grow rich when Gideon's imagination takes charge. Over four double-page spreads, Gideon envisions himself as the hero in classic fairy tales, such as Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk, each one comically distilled to a breathless run-on sentence. Much to Gideon's surprise, most of these characters weren't actually brave, strong, or clever. They were simply at the right place at the right time. So Gideon resolves to be vigilant, ready to be heroic at a moment's notice. Readers will have a good laugh watching the caped, stern-faced boy wander the neighborhood, so focused on being focused that he misses glaringly obvious opportunities to help. Heide's writing is filled with wit and humor, and her choice of a fairy-tale-obsessed boy is a breath of fresh air. For all his determination to be heroic, Gideon is a perfectly regular kid, and readers will love him all the more because of it.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)
PublisherChronicle Books LLC
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