Friday, November 13, 2020

The Great Powers Outage

The Great Powers Outage
by William Boniface
Recommended Ages: 10+

After saving all of Superopolis, the city's only non-super-powered kid, Ordinary Boy, has quietly gone back to being treated as less than nobody. You'd think people would show a bit of gratitude, right? But no, O.B. just goes back to school, where even fulfilling a campaign promise to save the city again isn't enough to get him elected class treasurer. This time, the city needs saving from a villain who has come out of retirement (cough prison cough), using his ability to talk anybody into doing whatever he says to sell a brand of suspiciously uniform pseudo-chips (I mean, really! They come in a can!), driving local favorite brand Dr. Telomere's Potato Chips out of business. And somehow, this seems to be connected with everybody losing their powers.

O.B. doesn't make any friends by suggesting that something must be causing everyone (except himself) to have superpowers, and therefore something must be causing them to lose those powers. Besides a total lack of curiosity about such idle topics as history, the people of Superopolis think of their powers as an organic part of who they are. Does that mean Ordinary Boy is, like, nobody? Literally? Some may think so. But among the few who would disagree are his longtime nemesis, Professor Brain-Drain; the secret figure behind Dr. Telomere's chips; the retired superheroes who live at the top of Needlepoint Hill; and of course, the villain of this piece, the Red Menace, alternately known as Comrade Crunch.

Ordinary Boy and his gang undertake another hilarious, perilous adventure in which curiosity, an interest in history and the reasons stuff works, courage and critical thinking skills are as good as a super power any day. Although that may not win them the class election – but politics is politics. Some credit is due to illustrator Stephen Gilpin for helping make this book fun to read. But ultimately what makes the book is its author's whimsical insight into the strange ways people think and behave, with and without off-the-wall imaginary abilities.

This is the third and, so far, latest book in the "Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy" series, and although its ending hints that more may be in store, its publication date (2008) suggests otherwise. Despite a lot of children's books to his credit, William Boniface doesn't seem to have published anything new since this book. His picture-book titles include Mystery in Bugtown, What Do You Want on Your Pizza, The Jewels on the Crown, The Stars Came Out on Christmas, Easter Bunnies Everywhere, Max Makes Millions and There's a Dinosaur in My Soup! – among others.

No comments: