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The adventures of Blue Avenger, a novel

by Norma Howe


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Publishers Weekly :

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David Bruce Schumacher has been drawing comic books featuring a superhero for three years, but on his 16th birthday he decides that it's high time that someone actually do something about the world's problems. Accordingly, he dons his late father's fishing vest, puts a towel on his head, la Lawrence of Arabia, and renames himself Blue Avenger after his creation ("The" is a lousy first name, he decides). Almost instantly the skinny redhead becomes a hero, first by saving the high school principal from killer bees, then by secretly arranging treatment for an acne-ravaged friend and ultimately effecting an end to handgun violence in Oakland, Calif.--maybe even the entire U.S. In this canny and sophisticated fable, Howe (The Game of Life) interpolates her loopy plot with serious discussions of philosophy, teen romance, a recipe for "weepless" lemon meringue pie and finely honed characterizations. Especially endearing are the hero and Omaha Nebraska Brown, the feisty gal he's drawn to by his own free will--or is it determinism? Throughout, Howe edgily challenges the reader to decide whether the events related therein (allegedly with the help of an extraterrestrial) are due to chance or fate. The story's teasingly open ending will inspire delighted conjecture. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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School Library Journal :

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Gr 7 Up-This book is funny, tender, a bit manic, and thoroughly entertaining. When his father died, David Schumacher, Oakland resident and all-around nice guy, invented his cartoon alter ego to be the "secret champion of the underdog, modest seeker of truth, fearless innovator of the unknown." On his 16th birthday, he decides to actually become "Blue Avenger" (his little brother having pointed out the silliness of having "The" for a first name) and finds undreamed of success helping others. Blue spends much time contemplating the question of fate vs. free will, and is also concerned about handgun control, universal health care, and perfecting a weepless lemon meringue pie (recipe is included). He takes pains to avoid the use of profane language, substituting comic-book symbols such as "*#%." However, his banter with his brother includes calling him a "bastard tool of destiny," and there is a description of his English class working with their well-liked teacher to parse the word "shit." Just as the novel's stylistic extravagances begin to wear a bit, Blue starts to hit it off with the new girl at school. Thereafter by turn clever, contrived, and comic, the seemingly unrelated plot elements are dizzily whizzed together. Older teens will more fully appreciate the subtlety of much of the humor. The satisfying if open-ended conclusion is, as the Beatles sang, "guaranteed to raise a smile." It's likely to be a wistful smile, however, as appreciative readers will eagerly await the next installment of Blue Avenger's remarkable adventures.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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