Saturday, January 2, 2016

Books We Love: "The Day I Lost My Superpowers" by Michael Escoffier

The Day I Lost My Superpowers by Michael Escoffier is the best kind of origin story. It reminds us why superheroes fascinate us. It's not the explosions or the ability to defeat the bad guys. It's the possibility that we can do something special.

The story begins with a little girl being thrown into the air by her father's disembodied arms. We know it's her father only because the arms are clothed in a business suit--and because, as in so many children's books, we never see him again. Her mother is there for for all the day-to-day activities that turn into displays of her superpowers. She can make cupcakes disappear...but not peas. She can even make herself disappear (by hiding under the bed). She can (sort of) talk to animals. Mostly, she makes a mess that her mother has to clean up.

Our little superhero brushes off any signs that she might not actually have superpowers. Her first attempts at flying don't work out so well, but she keeps trying. When talking to her dog seems to have no effect, she moves on to plants. But then she goes a little too far. While attempting even more daring flying feats in her backyard, she falls and hurts her knee. When the pain hits, she realizes her superpowers must be gone. And she cries.

Then, her mother gives her a magic kiss, and she feels better. The little girl concludes, of course, that her mother must have superpowers.

Stories told from the child's perspective almost always win me over. The older I get, the harder it is to remember that feeling of possibility, of hope, that comes so naturally to children. When a book can remind me of the rush of discovery, the excitement of everyday life that I know Jack experiences, I have to recommend it. The Day I Lost My Superpowers does this simply and beautifully. And it also reminds me of the way Jack sees me. To him, I am something of a superhero, able to swoop in and solve (most of) his problems with a hug or a kiss. I know my superpowers won't last forever, but I appreciate the reminder that I have them for now.

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