#903 – The Lil’ Defenders by Jaimie Hope & Jose Julian Ramirez Rivas

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defendersThe Lil’ Defenders
Written by Jaimie Hope
Illustrated by Jose Julian Ramirez Rivas
Back to Basics Publishing  5/20/2016
34 pages   Ages 6—8

“Who says kids can’t be superheroes? Don’t believe it’s true? Follow these kids on their first mission, they make a believer out of you too.

“Inspired by real life children achieving extraordinary feats using everyday items, their brainpower, and teamwork.” [back cover]

The Story
Four kids are playing baseball at the park; “boys against girls, as it had always been.” Hunter is at bat. He says, “I’m going to hit this one right out of the park!” Yep, the actual park they are playing in. The other three kids laugh. Even Hunter knows it’s an impossible feat. Burke pitches a fastball to his teammate. Hunter swings and . . .

At Hunter and Holly’s home, the four kids were excitedly telling Aunt Jean what had happened. Her response confused the four kids. She said,

“Didn’t your parents ever tell you we’re [sic] superhero families?”

Aunt J figures the kids received their superpowers early because trouble is brewing only they can defeat. She quickly determines each child’s superpower, gives each child—a secret—superhero name, and a team name: The Lil’ Defenders. Aunt J devises a plan and trains the kids. The next day, while at the park, three thugs are there, just as the computer said. The kids carried out Aunt J’s plan, defeating the three thugs in no time. The Lil’ Defenders are ready for their next superhero adventure.

The Lil’ Defenders sets up what sounds like a series in the making. Most of the first book involves discovering the kid’s super power and turning them into superheroes. Aunt Jean, or Aunt J, as the kids prefer to call her, will be in command of the Lil’ Defenders, and, it seems, the guardian of Holly and Hunter.

hollyHope builds her story too conveniently over two days’ time. The kids learn the truth about their parents and now themselves. Aunt J has each child concentrate and—POOF!—their super power appears. Aunt J devises a plan—while the kids discover their powers—trains them to be superheroes, and then gives them their superhero identities and outfits. All in ONE day. Then, the next day, as the kids walk into the park—Poof!—three bad guys are right there, doing their bad deed. What is their bad deed? Litterring. Littering is terrible and a horrible thing for the planet. I personally hate it. But superheroes versus litterers?

burkeSnap, crackle, and pop! The three thugs, are quickly dispensed in ten short paragraphs, including the kids transformation into superheroes and a warning to the “men” (“Stop right there! Don’t you dare drop any more of your garbage!”) Three men dumping over park garbage cans and throwing the trash and decaying food around is all too contrived, and frankly, kids, both the Lil’ Defenders and the readers, deserve better.

ceciThe top-of-the-page illustrations are fine, though at times, as in the first half page image, look stretched. At other times, the illustrations and the text are too far apart. Burke says about his sister Ceci, “She’s too little” to have superpowers, but in the illustrations, Ceci not only looks the same age as the other three kids, she is as tall as them (in one image she is taller than Burke and in one she is shorter). In another image, as the kids tear off their t-shirts—revealing long-sleeved shirts, gloved hands, and caped outfits—they look older than they had previously. And what did the Lil’ Defenders do with those three thugs?

ExcerptThe Lil’ Defenders could be a very good series for younger kids if the reader was respected by giving them a good villain. Superheroes, even child superheroes, defeat villains, not bad guys, not thugs, and certainly not litterers. If time were taken to develop the characters so readers could care about them, and the story built to a satisfying ending with good plotting, action, and dialogue. and then add some much-needed editing, The Lil’ Defenders might have a chance. Lastly, as written and formatted, The Lil’ Defenders is not a picture book and needs a couple of chapters to be a chapter book.

THE LIL’ DEFENDERS. Text copyright © 2016 by Jaimie Hope. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Jose Julian Ramirez Rivas. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Back to Basics Publishing, New Windsor, NY.

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Find The Lil’ Defenders on Goodreads HERE.

Jaimie Hope: http://jaimiehopesjourney.blogspot.com/
Follow on Twitter          @JaimieHope

Jose Julian Ramirez Rivas:  http://jramirezcaricatures.blogspot.com/
Follow on Guru  http://www.guru.com/freelancers/jose-julian-ramirez-rivas

Back to Basics Publishing:  http://www.backtobasicspublishing.com/
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Author Jaimie Hope solely owns back to Basics Publishing.

Reprinted with permission from THE LIL’ DEFENDERS © 2016 by Jaimie Hope, Back to Basics Publishing, Illustrations © 2016 by Jose Julian Ramirez Rivas.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

The Lil’ Defenders
Written by Jaimie Hope
Illustrated by Jose Julian Ramirez Rivas
Back to Basics Publishing 5/20/2016


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