Book review: Kid Normal by Greg James & Chris Smith

I found out about Kid Normal when I was looking up superheroes and superpowers on the net a couple of months ago (as you do), and was quite excited about the twist on the super-trope so added it to my mental to-be-read list. When I wandered into a bookshop just as they were unboxing the books on publication day, it seemed like fate so, rather than risk the wrath of the book gods, I bought it.

Murph Cooper is accidentally enrolled in Super School (with a capital ‘S’ – this isn’t a comment on the school. Like a school that could be described as super would ever exist, right?!), where he is the only person without a Cape (capability/power). Allowed to stay on to minimise the security risk to the school of their secret curriculum getting out, and despite teasing following the decision to make him help out the school Groundskeeper while the other kids develop their Capes, Murph is happy at school for the first time in ages and manages to make some friends. When the evil – and frankly rather unbalanced – King Nektar attacks his school and friends, Murph knows he must do all he can to help them. But what can Kid Normal do without any special abilities?

Firstly, let me just say that I love this book because it has allowed me to be able to answer one of life’s great questions with ease: ‘If you could have one super power, what would it be?’ Simple. Inspired by Hilda – whose Cape is to summon two tiny horses – my power would be to summon tiny sausage dog puppies. More than two though. Many. That’s right, you will quake at the sight of my pack of tiny sausage pups skipping towards you and tripping over their ears. Yeah.

Its ability to help me with hypothetical conundrums by including some unusual Capes (and some of them are genius!) isn’t the only good thing about this book though. I love the twist as much as I thought I would; turning the “normal” Murph into the abnormal at Super School is a refreshing change for the superhero trope, one that we can all relate to. The illustrations are brilliant*; Erica Salcedo really brings the book to life and compliments the tone and storyline perfectly.

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Just in case the whimsical cover and obviously tongue in cheek blurb (see picture) don’t make it clear enough, this book is funny. There are some great words and turns of phrase in there – “pre-lesson faffage” has become a new favourite of mine since reading and is regularly applied to everyday scenarios: pre-dinner faffage, pre-work faffage, pre-bedtime faffage. In fact, I would highly recommend that Kid Normal is read aloud so that the vocab and fast pace can be truly appreciated. Could be parent to child, child to parent, sibling to sibling; whatever the scenario, the regular prompts for sound effects and loudly declaring yourself “King of the Pineapple People”Β out of the nearest window are sure to make this a bedtime favourite.

In short, a highly entertaining, refreshing read for all the family. You can’t say fairer than that for Β£6.99!

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*I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, WHY AREN’T THERE MORE ILLUSTRATIONS IN YOUNG ADULT AND ADULT BOOKS? I want pictures.

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