Bucky and Stu vs. the Mikanikal Man
written and illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright
2015 (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
"Wait a minute! We've pledged to protect our town. Protect our planet-"
"And our favorite TV show."
Box Man. Phat Tyre. Trash Man. Hose Nose. These are some of the foes that Bucky and Stu face in the backyard. In their battle to save the planet and their favorite TV show, these hometown heroes show ingenuity and bravery against the spare part scoundrels. After a successful morning, Bucky reveals a secret to Stu. He and his Uncle Ernie have been building the behemoth Mikanikal Man. All he lacks is a Bio-Mechanical Nuclear Power Pac, so there is little chance he will actually come to life. With a nod to Doc Brown, a lightning strike brings the energy needed for the Mikanikal Man to come to life. Bucky and Stu engage the metal monster, but with little progress. The end seems near (think Batman TV show endings) until the Mikanikal Man shows a human foible that is very near and dear to Stu's heart and stomach. Foe becomes friend and the planet gains another dedicated defender.
People complain that our current video game generation doesn't engage in imaginative play. They need to visit an elementary school playground. Imagination abounds with role playing all over the place. Bucky and Stu will fit right in with any primary classroom. My class enjoyed the comic book panel artwork and the superhero tensions that come with it. If you're looking for a book to model how to use quotation marks, this book would be a good pick. Another lesson could be how to incorporate plot twists in your writing. Celebrate imagination and a can-do spirit by bringing Bucky and Stu to your class.