I simply can’t understand why The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man received such negative reviews on Amazon. I first heard about this delightful little book online, then today I happened to find it at Barnes and Noble and, being the cheapskate that I am, read all of it in the store. The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man is aimed at ages 4-8, but the suggested age is misleading. I’m an adult and I loved it, and if I weren’t so cheap I’d buy a copy for my own amusement.
I should point out that I may be biased in my review of The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. It’s written by Michael Chabon, author of two of my absolute favorite books, Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Plus, it’s about a superhero.
The plot is fun, the pictures are fantastic, and the ending is heartwarming. Most importantly, it’s a book that will capture a child’s imagination. When I was a kid, I remember thinking picture books that in any way resembled reality were lame, and reading them was a chore. But if you threw in something extraordinary, say a dinosaur, a giant dog, or a space mission, I’d read the book over and over. If the stories were loose or open ended, I’d often come up with my own stories based on the characters, ones which were oftentimes longer and more complex than the books that inspired them. That’s the charm of The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man: if you read it to a particularly imaginative child, they will create their own adventures featuring this awesome superhero. It also very briefly introduces Awesome Man’s rogue gallery, plus his canine sidekick (an homage to Krypto).
The only thing that might be a problem with The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man is that Chabon throws in a few big polysyllabic science babble terms like “positronic.” Some kids will love the nonsensical words, while others might get hung up on them. They reminded me a lot of how in old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons the good guys would always defeat the giant robot villains by “reversing the polarity.” As a kid, I never questioned Donatello’s science, but when I got older and thought back on this, I had to wonder, does “reversing the polarity” mean the Turtles just reinserted the robot’s batteries backwards?
Okay, I am pretty sure this review is now longer than the book itself. I would say if you have children (this book will appeal more to boys) you should at the very least try to find this at the library for them. I enjoyed it a lot, and actually wanted to look at the pictures over again, so odds are, your children will too. If you’re an adult, find a discrete place at the bookstore to read it.
If you have read The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon, what was your opinion of it?