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Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice

Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of JusticeSecret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice
Written by: Derek Fridolfs
Illustrated by: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Hardcover, 6 x 9, 176 pages, Full Color, $12.99
ISBN: 978-0-54582-501-6

Review

I can't decide where to start. Do I start with the artwork? Do I start with the writing? Either way it's way more than positive in the case of Derek Fridolfs' and Dustin Nguyen's Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice.

The writing is superb. Like its superhero characters the writing soars above and beyond, out of reach and way beyond expectations. Which is hard to do, especially when you're writing not only about overly familiar characters, but also those same superhero characters' hypothetical childhoods. Refreshing and thoughtful, Fridolfs' Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice offers an enticing new look on the lives of the young Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

The artwork is delicious. Why? In order to capture a believable look for these three familiar superheroes Nguyen had to ask himself: "Since these are childhood versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman how can I downplay their well-known, adult, and dominant personalities?" Adult superheroes are bold and big; they know who they are and what they stand for. Kid superheroes are inquisitive and rising; they neither know who they are yet, nor what they stand for. While retaining an underlining strength for the young superheroes, Nguyen's artwork in Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice delicately shows our heroes as they figure out their world and their coming of age roles within it.

As for the story itself: The Ducard school the three superheroes-in-the-making attend has some mysteriously sinister students. In fact, most of the students are pretty darn evil. Prank-prone clowns. Mouth-bound wrestlers. Overly passionate botanists. Frozen-focused meteorologists. Hmmm...

Thought provoking, right? That's what a young Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, and Diana of Themyscira think.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot(s): A young Bruce Wayne (Batman), Clark Kent (Superman), and Diana of Themyscira (Wonder Woman) find themselves at the same middle school. The Ducard school doesn't seem to align with our future superheroes budding ideals about the world, however. It's filled with a bunch of bullies... Even the teachers! So what's going on? A young investigator in the making, Bruce Wayne leads the trio in an effort to find out.

Major Characters: Bruce Wayne, Professor Hugo Strange, Alfred, Principal, Dr. Thaddeus B. Sivana, Mr. Vandal Savage, Mr. Jervis Tetch, Mr. Basil Karlo, Ms. Siobhan McDougal, Coach Zod, Coach "Kitty" Faulkner, Mr. Solomon Grundy, Clark, Diana, Brainiac, Joker, Bane, Joe Kerr, Talia, ninjas, Ra's Al Ghul

Major Settings: Ducard school, Wayne Manor

Major Themes: Action and Adventure, School, Alliances and Friendships, Villainy, Mystery and Detective Work, Villainy

Reading / Literacy Recommendations For Young Adult Readers in Language Arts Grades 4 - 8

Text Types and Purposes:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.1.B*
Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.1.C*
Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

* Although these standards are indicated for grades 6 - 8 they encompass the standards in grades 4 and 5 as well.

Reading Lesson Idea for Language Arts Readers in Grades 4 - 8

Directions: Because this graphic novel relies so heavily on understanding a young Bruce Wayne's journal entries readers can demonstrate comprehension of the text by writing their own journal entries as well. Formatted similarly to those like Wayne's, readers can record their thoughts each time they read.

Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.