Bad Guy.jpgTitle: Bad Guy
Author: Hannah Barnaby
Illustrator: Mike Yamada
ISBN: 9781481460101
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2017.

If the Incredibles or Despicable Me family were the bad guys instead of the heroes, they might be something like this family. Digital illustrations also lead to this comparison, which seems obvious upon learning  that illustrator Mike Yamada is a professional animator. The boy narrator is intent on wrecking havoc on his sister Alice, including chasing her, tying her up, and dumping spaghetti on her to better facilitate eating her brains. Besides the last scenario, it’s difficult to determine exactly what he does to her, since the other situations are portrayed in an imagined manner with flexible size distortions reminiscent of Alice’s Wonderland namesake. Alice’s brother gets his comeuppance though in blatant trap that Alice sets up and speaks more to his carelessness than Alice’s evil abilities. Alice’s pronouncement that “Not every bad guy is a guy.” and their mother’s movements in the background make clear the feminist agenda that girls can do and be anything they want. With the narrator’s release from the trap at the end and the amicable closing scene, it seems that Alice might be more malleable in her evil intentions than her brother’s unsympathetic and entirely remorseless. Most seem to enjoy the cute story of comeuppance, but it’s a spin on superheroes and imaginative play that doesn’t quite make it off the ground for me. I’m lucky a Goodreaders reviewer mentioned taking off the book jacket on the hardcover, as it has a hit of the ending to come underneath.

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