Chase Danger, Super Spy: Mystery of the Special Sauce
written by Chase & Lisa Olivera
illustrated by Adam Goodman
Children's book review by Steve Barancik.
Six Year Old Superhero
I was born potty-trained!
It's hard not to like a book whose hero says the above line of dialogue, and on some level that line tells you everything you need to know about this book.
Larger than life (yet smaller than everyone else), 6-year old Chase Danger is nothing less than a kindergarten James Bond.
He already has arch-enemies, he beats up henchmen without breaking a sweat, and his powers of observation are such that he can tell a regular pizza from one serving as an essential element in an evil plot for world domination.
And oh yeah...he's been doing this since he was two.
On mountaintops, undersea, underground and in space, Chase takes on the kind of forces that are intent on world domination. He always has the right tools, the right knowledge, and the right skills to triumph in any situation. And if all this sounds a little more action movie-like than book-like...
Well, that's because it is. But the thing is: for the most part, it works.
Chase Danger isn't your typical prose protagonist, with a single problem to solve, personal demons to wrestle, and as many failed efforts to his credit as successful ones. No, he's a serial adventurer who has what it takes to always come out on top, and he isn't doing it for himself - he's doing it for the world at large.
(There's even a hint at the end that there'll be the 6 year old equivalent of a Bond Girl to join him in his next series of adventures.)
Am I telling you there's no real substance to this book? I am! In fact, I'm sure there are parents out there whose response to Chase Danger will be, "I don't want my kid reading that crap!"
Well, calm down.
This is good-hearted adventure, and your kid will be watching (and video-playing) "that crap" soon enough. Yes, Chase Danger is a bit mindless, but nothing with this much attitude and good humor is completely mindless, and I'm a big believer in vicarious wish fulfillment.
Let's face it: small children experience a rather stunning and deeply felt lack of personal freedom. If watching Chase roam freely and save the world helps them accept their condition, well that's a heck of a gift to give.
And Chase operates in a fictional world where kids are savvier than adults. That's pretty fun too.
The prose isn't perfect, and the written action can be a bit hard to follow, but illustrator Adam Goodman renders the excitement in more than sufficient detail to keep things straight.
Besides, just like with a great action movie, the logic pretty much stops mattering. So long as Humphrey Bogart...I mean James Bond...I mean Chase Danger knows what's going on, the audience is content to just soak in the non-stop thrills.
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