BC: A riveting book review of "Heck Superhero" brought to you by Ashley Madrigga and her great discussion group!
FC: Heck Superhero by Martine Leavitt
1: Getting Started I just wanted to start off by thanking the members of my group who participated in the very detailed discussion this week. I really enjoyed all of the opinions and perspectives each one of my group members brought to every question. Great job! I feared a small discussion, as it is the last, but you all really worked hard to explain your ideas and thoughts on the book. If it wasn't for all of your participation in this discussion I would have nothing to report! Thanks so much!
2: What were your initial reactions to this book?
3: A Wordle to Synthesize our Thoughts
4: Who Relates? Do you think young adults could relate to this book even if they have never experienced having to live through the situations that Heck was forced to deal with? Why or why not?
5: It seems that everyone is on the same page with this question in that they believe that not only students could easily relate to this book, but adults as well. Everyone seemed to come to a general consensus that sometimes students like to read about people who are different from them to gain a new perspective about those people and themselves. This book targets some heavy issues that could really hit home for anyone. Heck is alone, searching for his mother, trying express his emoutions through his superhero alter ego. Age, social status, culture, background and race alike, everyone has felt alone in the world at one point or another. Heck was strong and brave and those are two qualities that could make even the weakest person, character or reader, feel like a superhero.
6: Problem Novel? Would you consider this book a "problem novel"? Why or why not? Furthermore, would you use it in your classroom? | Artistic Expression Did reading this story make you believe that art can have a powerful effect on expressing emotion? Do you think Heck would have lost motivation to continue his search for his mother without using art as an outlet?
7: I felt that these two questions were closely tied together because of the unique way that Heck expresses his problem situation artistically. There were mixed feelings about whether or not this was a problem novel - some stating that it was because it dealt with real-life problems and situations, while others thought the problems never superceded the characters so it was not a problem novel. I feel that my group posts two very great points, but although this book has elements of a problem novel, the characters are always center stage to the problems so I agree that it is not. Artistic expression is an extremely important outlet for some students, and as future teachers it's great that we all seemed to realise that. Art can have a powerful effect on anyone, even people who may not understand what someone elses' work is expressing or presenting. Art evokes emotions that are key to developing healthy emotional growth.
8: Character Qualities There were quite a few powerful characters in this book that contributed to the in depth story line. Who was your favorite character and what qualities made this person your favorite?
9: Heck and his teacher, Mr. Bandras, were the two characters that were unanimously favored throughout this story for two very different reasons. Heck, for his strength and triumph over the walls that were built up to break his life and Mr. Bandras for his continual involvement and mentorship to Heck. I feel that each character in this story brought a diverse uniqueness to Heck's life and without them, he may not have made it through to find his mom. Marion, an odd kid who Heck felt he could help in one way or another, taught Heck that there is good in everyone, even when it's least expected. Spence was Hecks best friend in the whole world, and they were bonded together for life because of the understanding they had for one another's lives. Heck's mother tried to be great but in her battle with depression lost focus of how to care for Heck. Although she may have appeared to let Heck down, she was still his mother and he refused to abandon her no matter what.
10: The following links are what I posted as a background on the author, Martine Leavitt. I feel that previously being a single parent of six, Leavitt's had a "molecular bond" with Heck's character and the struggles and emotions he battled throughout the novel. I feel that her background and being a mother could have also had an impact on how well written the book was and it could have intensified Heck's longing to find his mother and make sure she was okay. Someone once told me, "Write what you know", and I feel that Leavitt found much of the emotion in this book from personal struggles or battles she may have faced in her past.
11: http://www.martineleavitt.com/awards.php?idx=5 (Please also see the bio page and book review page on this website as well) http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2293/Leavitt-Martine-1953.html Do you think being a single parent of six for several years could have influenced Leavitt’s writing style and helped to the express the longing for Heck to find his mother in this novel? Why or why not?
12: This ridiculously long like will take you to an intersting website: http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.lambiek.net/artists/h/heck_don/heck_don_wonderwoman1973.jpg&imgrefurl=http://lambiek.net/artists/h/heck_don.htm&usg=__GKRX40ncGT35cNvCEICPQk4iMV8=&h=327&w=330&sz=31&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=Fq4RyEulH9lSGM:&tbnh=118&tbnw=119&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dheck%2Bsuperhero%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1 After looking at this website, do you think comic artist Don Heck could have been Martine Leavitt’s inspiration for main character and protagonist in the story, Heck? How do you think the two could be related?
13: I feel that Don Heck was THE inspiration for Heck's character. Not only do they share the same name, but Don Heck is known for working on famous comics such as "Iron Man", "The Avengers", and many more. What better name for the leading character who has a superhero alter-ego for his down days, than one of the leading pioneers in the comic book industry.
14: Who Wouldn't Want to Be a Superhero? Why do you think Heck pretends to be a superhero?
15: As a group, we all agree on the same point, and to quote Nicole who said it best, "I think he does this as a coping mechanism to allow him some control over his uncontrollable circumstances. He is a very clever child but is someone who has been hurt by those he loves in many ways. By using this other persona he can temporarily escape the uncertainties he is feeling."
16: Concluding Questions and Other Avenues To tie in with other concepts we've learned so far in our literature class, do you think this book would have been better if it would have been a picture book?
17: As we've looked at picture books and the different interpretations they present to their viewers, I don' think it would be better as a picture book, however, I think that it would reach out to a different audience if it was a picture book. People would be able to build their own interpretations about Heck's life, his feelings, his world, and his friends and family. It would offer a different experience to the people reading it as a picture book. The group also felt that it would depend on the viewing audience. Some people prefer to read written novels, and others prefer to build their own interpretations through picture books. Take your pick!
18: Concluding Comments I feel that our group took this book to another level and analyzed it in an in depth manner. It has really helped to show the different interpretations each reader will take from the book and how that changes the perception of the characters, plot, and predictability. No matter which cover or character they liked best, they all concluded that this book would be great for any audience.
19: Concluding Comments This book would be extremely useful in a middle school classroom because kids at this age can relate to the storyline and either find comfort in it, grow from it, cherish their own lives, or all of the above. I feel that this book would bring up quite a few character traits and spark discussion in doing so. It is educational, entertaining, and perceptive to the needs of the reader. Two thumbs up!