Publishers Weekly (January 2, 2012)
Good-naturedly sardonic Tucker MacBean is a collector and aspiring creator of comic books, a preoccupation that he realizes doesn't rank high "on the sliding scale of middle-school coolness." He enters a contest to create a sidekick for his favorite superhero, convinced that a win will jump-start his popularity; he plans to give the prize-a college scholarship-to his overextended single mother, who's juggling classes and work. Tucker joins the art club to prepare his entry, and Sam (a classmate who Tucker sees as "arch nemesis to the world") is hired to babysit his special-needs brother after school. As Beanboy, Tucker's invented sidekick, takes shape (Harkrader also contributes sketches and comics-style panel art throughout), Tucker displays his own heroism when he reaches out to Sam after discovering why she is so belligerent and defensive. Tucker's rapport with his brother, concern for his mother, and frustration with his absent father (who now "only existed in e-mails") add emotional depth to Harkrader's (Airball: My Life in Briefs) believable portrait of school and family life. Ages 9-12. Agent: Steven Chudney, the Chudney Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.