Meet Marv, the latest, coolest young superhero in town! In his “origin story” we meet Marvin as an ordinary schoolboy, probably at the top end of primary school, who is hugely excited to be working on a project for the school science fair with his best friend Joe. They are clearly two very bright boys as they have created a robot that can read aloud and it is very apparent that they make a great team. They also share a love of superhero comics and Marvin is excited to see a black superhero character in one of the vintage comic books that Joe has brought into school. He is astounded later that evening when his kind and empathetic grandad sends him to explore an old trunk in the attic; there is the outfit he spotted in the comic…and when he tries it on, it shrinks to fit! Even more astonishing is the fact that it comes equipped with a robot sidekick! Pixel is the cutest robot I have seen since R2D2, and I greatly applaud that she is a female robot character which I have not seen in a children’s book before.
When supervillain “Mastermind” crashes the science fair, Marv needs to put his new superhero powers to the test. I won’t spoil the plot for anyone, suffice to say that there is enough exciting action here to blow any young readers’ circuit boards! I greatly enjoyed the inclusion of a child supervillian, it gave this story a genuinely playful element in tune with the intended readership.
There are many aspects to this book that I loved. The idea of a superhero suit powered by kindness and imagination is top of the list; what a brilliant message to pass on to young readers. In the foreword, author Alex Falase-Koya, explains his desire to create a young black superhero based on his own reverence for a cartoon called Static Shock that he watched as a child. I think that he has created a wonderful character that will be enjoyed by readers of all ethnic backgrounds. The overall design of the book is perfect for readers of 6-8 years old; cartoon style illustrations with a blue palette by Paula Bowles throughout help to break the story into small readable chunks; a large, bold font is used; chapters are short and fast-paced; the book itself is a smaller size that younger children can hold comfortably and the cover art with its blue foil highlights is hugely appealing. Highly recommended for Years 1, 2 and 3 classrooms, school libraries and home bookshelves.
In Marv’s second adventure we find our young superhero and his class setting off on a coach trip to The Natural History Museum, a scenario that many young readers at the present time may not find so familiar, due to the restrictions on school trips during the periods of lockdown. Consequently, I loved the description of the awe and wonder that Marvin experiences as he steps into the great reception hall for the first time. It is so easy to take for granted our great museums when we have made multiple visits over the years, but the opening chapter actually sparked a memory from my own first childhood visit as a 10 year old and I am sure will inspire young readers to request a visit.
Fortunately, Marvin has packed his Marv superhero suit and his sidekick robot Pixel in his backpack, so when the dinosaur skeletons are suddenly sparked into life by another child supervillain, this time named Rex, he is ready to suit-up and spring into action. As with the first book, Marv is inspired by kindness and imagination. He outsmarts Rex with strategic thinking and is motivated by the desire to keep his friends and the other museum visitors safe.
Author, Alex Falase-Koya, again shows all young readers a positive message as even without his superhero suit on, Marv demonstrates his kindness by befriending new pupil Eva and welcoming her into his friendship group. There is also a sprinkle of smart humour throughout, often provided by Pixel. I really do think that the combination of inclusivity and superhero action make Marv and the Dino Attack an essential addition to Key Stage 1 and Year 3 classroom and library book choices. I look forward to further challenges between Marv and juvenile supervillains in the future!
I am most grateful to Oxford University Press for sending me copies of these two books in exchange for my honest reviews.