Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: Project Superhero by E. Paul Zehr

Join 13-year-old Jessie as she keeps a diary of her class’s yearlong research project on superheroes, which culminates in the Superhero Slam: a head-to-head debate battle in front of the entire school. It’s shy, comics-obsessed Jessie’s dream come true . . . and worst nightmare. She decides to champion Batgirl, a regular person (albeit with major talent and training under her utility belt), and soon Jessie wonders what it would take to be Batgirl. Will she prove to her best friends, Cade and Audrey, that she’s more than a sidekick? Can she take down archenemy Dylan at the Slam?
Combining science facts, lively illustrations, and comic-book trivia with actual correspondence from superhumans such as NYPD Sergeant Mike Bruen, Olympian Clara Hughes, and Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, Project Superhero is a celebration of the heroes among us and of one girl’s super-secret identity: herself.
E. Paul Zehr, a professor at the University of Victoria, is the author of Becoming Batman (2008) and Inventing Iron Man (2011) and he writes for Psychology Today, Scientific American, and Discover. He lives in Victoria, BC. Veteran animator Kris Pearn co-directed 2013’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

I'm not the biggest comic book fan in the world but I found the premise of this book to be quite interesting.

In Project Superhero, Jessie and her class have to do a year-long project on superheroes. At the end of it, they will face off in a Superhero Slam wherein they debate the merits of their chosen superhero. Jessie has chosen Batgirl and wonders what would it take for her to be like Batgirl?

As you would expect, this book had a lot of comic book references, history and trivia. There are mentions of certain origin stories and specific comic book issues, which I thought was pretty cool. The superheroes mentioned on the book, though, are not obscure. Most, if not all, of the superheroes are ones that you've probably heard of. This is great because comic book fans will appreciate all the comic book and superhero references while those who are only moderately interested will not feel alienated.

The book is written in a diary format. There are also some illustrations of Jessie and the things she's describing in her diary entries. I thought that was a little strange, in the sense that I wasn't quite sure if they were meant to be photographs or Jessie's drawings.

Anyway, I really liked the interviews (via letters) that Jessie did with people whom she thought were amazing, inspiring and could help her on her quest. My favorite was the one she did with Nicole Stott, a NASA engineer who had been in space.                                                                                    

There were some parts that were a little predictable, but overall, thanks to the interviews and the comic book stuff, I liked this book a lot.

Thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press for the e-ARC.


  1. You'll learn a lot about comic books and superheroes.
  2. The interviews are interesting and insightful.
  3. The book really reads like the diary of a young girl. 


  1. There were some predictable parts. 


  1. You like superheroes.
  2. You like learning about amazing women.
  3. You've wondered how feasible it is to become a superhero. 




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