The Incredible Three and a Half Superheroes” Packs a Punch

Authors who publish in languages other than English often find that their work remains known only within their home countries and those that share that country’s language. While it’s fulfilling to be known in one’s own home country, sometimes an author has a desire to branch out. English has become a global language that’s the lingua franca of business, science, and education, so when an author who has previously written in their native language has a book published in English, he or she can feel as though it’s one of their breaks into the big leagues.

It’s good news for English speaking readers, too. When foreign works are made available to a wider audience, people get the opportunity to be exposed to new literary voices and cultural perspectives they may not have known before. This cross-cultural enrichment is especially important for kids, who are just starting to learn about the world and develop their literary tastes.

German author Frank Schmeißer’s children’s book, The Incredible Three and a Half Super Heroes, was recently made available in English through Little Gestalten. The book is a humorous look at the life of three young superheroes — and one imaginary friend — who set out to solve mysteries and save the world, but often end up getting into trouble of their own making. The team consists of Sebastian, aka The Brain, and his two cohorts Barbara “Action Barbie” Bakewell and Martin “The Chameleon” Koslowski. Martin’s imaginary friend, Dickie aka The Chicken, is recognized as an active part of the group as well.

While the gang normally remains undercover and protective of their superhero secrets, extenuating circumstances force Sebastian to create a written account of the their amazing exploits. The result is an excessive behind the scenes look into the everyday existence of child superheroes. Why is the class hamster wearing camouflage? Why did Aunt Boadicea’s birthday party turn into a disaster? Why in the world was Sebastian nearly arrested while wearing a giraffe costume? Readers will find out all of this and more, including the reason why the future of the world depends on The Incredible Three and a Half keeping their identities a secret.

The Incredible Three and a Half Superheroes is sure to bring plenty of laughs to its intended audience of older elementary school age children. While some of the vocabulary might be better suited for older readers, and the text has a slightly off-kilter flow that’s likely due to translation, the characters and storyline are engaging enough to hold a kid’s attention from start to finish. The wise-beyond-their-years cast of characters and irreverent humor share a common thread with other currently popular series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This genre is growing in popularity thanks to its brilliant combination of goofball humor with more serous themes like friendship and family.

The Incredible Three and a Half Superheroes stands out in its genre thanks to the unique idea of giving the main characters superpowers, plus its charming European flavor. Many kids will also be able to relate to the character who has an imaginary friend. The book is fast-paced and action-packed and gives a lighthearted yet semi-detailed look into the heroes’ experiences at home and at school. Jörg Mühle’s fun graphic novel illustrations help enhance that vibe while bringing the events of the story to life.

Cologne, Germany-based author Frank Schmeißer has penned a number of German children’s books, most of which include superhero and fantasy themes. With his first English book in publication, its likely we’ll see more of this imaginative author on our side of the pond.

Related Tags