What a Difference a Name Can Make
By Charise Mericle Harper, Illustrated by Bob Shea
Random House Books for Young Readers, $3.99, 48 pages
Writers need to remember that it is possible to oversell a joke. Wedgieman: A Hero is Born is the origin story of Wedgieman, a superhero with the power of flight, super-strength and limited shape-changing abilities – he can turn into a vegetable. This book follows his life from birth through his first adventures, the process of choosing a uniform and the unfortunate spelling error that gives him a name he would prefer not to have.
Although this is actually a pretty good book, two jokes almost sink it. The first is a page of bad costumes that he debates – there is just no real fun to be had with the idea. The second is the character’s name itself – although it is not a bad idea, the joke is forced in order to create uncomfortable slapstick, and it gets old quickly, even for first graders. There are some great ideas otherwise, and it will be interesting to see where Wedgieman goes on his next adventure.
Reviewed by Jamais Jochim