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Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Sidekicks by Dan Santat is pretty cool. It's a story about animal sidekicks to superheroes, specifically the four pets of Captain Amazing, Metro City's aging superhero.  Each of the four pets has their own story: Fluffy the Hamster is trying to become a hero, Metal Mutt wants to spend more time with Captain Amazing, Manny the cat needs to reconcile with Captain Amazing and Shifty the Chameleon... I guess he wants to belong too.  I think Fluffy is probably the core of the book but just barely -- Santat does spread the story around Captain Amazing and the sidekicks.

I don't want to give anything away but needless to say, Captain Amazing is getting along in years and even superheroes apparently suffer from allergies.  There's a relatively straightforward superhero style plot at the core of the action; an evil villian, trickery and action scenes, all of which Santat handles in a cheerfully funny style.  But the best part of the book is the animal characters and their interactions trying to be heroes themselves.  Their struggles to become heroes and help out Captain Amazing provide a ton of humor.

Santat has illustrated a bunch of kids books and he does a wonderful job with the art here.  The writing is very good but the art is fantastic.  I really loved his style and how he designed the many animal characters in the story.  There's a ton of joy in the visuals to this book. 

This is a strongly recommended book, particularly for its target age group of 8 to 12 years old.  It's due in stores on July 1st - be sure to look out for it.