Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley

Lynn:  Our focus group has a wide age range with two 9-year-olds, an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old and I am continually reminded that an important component of reviewing books is in, at least occasionally, sharing books with the audiences they are intended for.  A case in point is Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show (Abrams 2012).  Our 2-year-old grandson, like his older cousins, loves books.  Henry is just old enough now to understand a joke and he loves nothing more than a book with a central joke that runs over and over again with slight variations – the sillier the better.  My completely unscientific observation is that this concept works perfectly for the 2 – 5 year-old set.  They giggle helplessly every time and, in fact, enjoy tremendously knowing what is going to happen next.  While those of us who read to them, may sometimes get a little (okay – a LOT) tired of the joke or the book, the kids never do.

There was a reason for this ramble and it is to point out that Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show is a terrific example of a book that works for this developmental stage.  Kel Gilligan, toddler-superhero extraordinaire, takes on “super-scary” daredevil feats like eating broccoli, sitting on the potty and getting dressed by himself!  Cheered on by his admiring family, Kel is fearless!  Well, almost fearless as one feat is just a little too much yet.  Dan Santat’s oversize comic illustrations add to the fun and there are wonderful touches that will amuse the adults reading the book for the twentieth time.  The dialog is all in comic-book style speech bubbles that small superheroes will love.  Throw caution to the winds and add this laugh-out loud book to your collections right away!

Cindy: As the holidays approach I am feeling sentimental so this is a good time to publicly thank our focus group members for their earnest and enthusiastic field testing. Even though our original members have outgrown some of the younger titles, I love how they willingly review them and pronounce things like, “This book would be awesome for Henry, but it’s too easy for me.” And then I hear that they sit down and reread said “too easy” but “awesome” book for a second time. Even better is when Lynn shares the photos of the four boys reading all together. I want to be on that couch sharing in the fun. I raised two daughters and miss the reading time we shared, but they both had some Kel Gilligan in them…and still do.  This book made me laugh.

Dan Santat has a cool deal going on his website: Kel Gilligan Limited Edition Sets! In an effort to support independent booksellers he is offering special content with a purchase of a Kel Gilligan hardcover. These bonuses are not available elsewhere and will help counter the 30% discount you might find by ordering the book online. There are various priced sets with one even including original artwork. Okay, I just read the fine print and the offer may be expired, but it’s worth a shot if you have a young daredevil who really needs a Kel Gilligan t-shirt! If nothing else, the reminder to shop locally is a good one.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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