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Monday, June 8, 2015

Unlikely Heroes : The Best of the Best In Children's Literature

Who doesn't love a story about a hero who wins the day?  Superman flying in to stop the bad guy in his tracks.  Spiderman spinning a safety web to help a damsel in distress.  Batgirl racing in on her motorcycle to rid Gotham of one more bad guy. The comics have filled young minds (and adult minds as well) with images of good defeating evil.   These scenarios have led to discussion "If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?"  The possibilities are endless.  However, there are other heroes that are a little more down to earth.  They have no super "powers" to speak of yet they are able to do heroic things just by being themselves.  In children literature,  authors and publishers like to call them the unlikely heroes.  Children simply call  them their favorites.   Here are Librarian At Large's top five unlikely heroes.  If readers have not met them yet, this summer is the perfect time to get to know them.

1.  Roald Dahl's Matlida  is quite the intriguing character.  Everyone around her under estimates her, except for her observant teacher, Miss Trunchbull.  Matilda, who has been neglected by her mother and father, learns ways to get what she wants.  It isn't until meeting and befriending her teacher that she begins to want to help someone other than herself.

2.  Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux has a huge heart in a little mousy body.   Who needs a night in shinning armor when Despereaux Tilling is ready to take on a feat that no man, er, mouse has ever taken on before!  This is one mouse who reminds all readers that mighty things come n small packages.

3.  Percy Jackson of  Rick Rioridan's Percy Jackson Olympian series is the perfect example of a hero dealing with multiple challenges at once.  Not only does he find out that his dad was a greek god, but on top of that he has ADHD.  Percy goes from one adventure to the next with his trusty pals who see to it that the good conquers evil and Percy makes it back to camp in one piece.

4.  Never one to shrink away from a challenge, Katniss of Suzanne Collin's  Hunger Games has become a favorite female unlikely heroine.  With her skillful handling of her bow and arrow, Katniss proves that in a do or die situation, girls can be just a strong and tough as their male peers.   Collins brilliantly weaves a plot that has the reader sitting on the edge of their seat asking,  "What now?".  In every situation, Katniss does the unexpected and comes out the victor not the victim.

5. Gordon Korman has introduced readers to many wonderful characters.  However, in Schooled,  the unlikely hero is Cap (as in Capricorn) Anderson.   One has to admire a character that can beat the odds of growing up in a hippie commune and not only survive  middle school politics but breaks the stereotypes and wins the support of his peers.   Feel good story told in a very humorous way,  making readers wish they could unleash their power of humor to get out of sticky situations.

This is only a list of five. To be honest it was a very difficult list to put together because there are so many to choose from.  Perhaps the unlikely hero list should be expanded next time?


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