Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud
written by Frances Watts; illustrated by Judy Watson
(Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) 2010
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Ernie Eggers is late for school again. His favorite TV show, The Daring Dynamo, runs over and therefore Ernie is hustling into the school building as the bell is ringing. As Ernie is racing to his class, he spots an unusual sight. A slightly bulging man wearing purple tights and an orange turtleneck draped by a purple cape. Amazing Desmond is posting an announcement that will change Ernie's life forever. The Baxter branch of the Superheroes Society is getting a little long in the tooth (hilariously illustrated by Judy Watson) and needs new blood. They decide to hold a contest to add to their "elite" group. Mild mannered Ernie Eggers, who views himself as anything but super, is the only student to answer their ad. With the sassy sheep Maud as his selected sidekick and a super suit, formerly ordinary Ernie goes out into his community to find crime to fight and to discover why he is indeed extraordinary.
I enjoyed reading Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud on a couple of levels. The humor of the book is crisp and subtle, so I'm not sure younger readers will be able to fully enjoy it. The "past their prime" Superhero Society kept me in a constant chuckle. If you are teaching parody to older students, you would do well to lift a small passage from this book and share it. I also like that the main character is an ordinary kid that many students will be able to easily connect with. Ernie really doesn't do anything extraordinary, but he finds that he is able to rise to the occasion when needed and this is a good lesson for students in that they too have unknown talents to discover if they are willing to take a chance like Ernie did. Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud, with its not too difficult to read text, could be a nice chapter book to put in the hands of a reluctant 4th or 5th grade reader.
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