Middle Grade Review: The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid (Matt Wallace)

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About This Book:

Matt Wallace, author of Bump, presents a personal, humorous, and body-positive middle grade standalone about a fat kid who wants to stop his bullies . . . and enlists the help of the world’s most infamous supervillain. Perfect for fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julie Murphy, and John David Anderson!

Max’s first year of middle school hasn’t been easy. Eighth-grade hotshot Johnny Pro torments Max constantly, for no other reason than Max is fat and an easy target. Max wishes he could fight back, but he doesn’t want to hurt Johnny . . . just make him feel the way Max feels.

In desperation, Max writes to the only person he thinks will understand: imprisoned supervillain Master Plan, a “gentleman of size.” To his surprise, Master Plan wants to help! He suggests a way for Max to get even with Johnny Pro, and change how the other kids at school see them both.

And it works! When Master Plan’s help pays off for Max in ways he couldn’t have imagined, he starts gaining confidence—enough to finally talk to Marina, the girl he likes in class who shares his passion for baking. With Master Plan in his corner, anything seems possible . . . but is there a price to pay for the supervillain’s help?

 

 

*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

Advice can be dangerous.
 
What worked:
Having Max seek advice from a supervillain named Master Plan, or Maximo, is a unique twist for a book about a troubled sixth grader. Max’s two main issues stem from being overweight and consequently being bullied at school. Surprisingly, Master Plan’s emails from prison show compassion for Max’s situation and provide sound suggestions to help him improve his life. Maximo says violence will only make the situation worse, and he shouldn’t expect respect from others unless it’s been earned. Max shouldn’t worry so much about others, and he should do things that make him feel better about himself. Useful advice indeed, but is there an endgame? Cooking is one thing Max enjoys, so the inclusion of a competitive baking show should have an additional appeal for some readers.
The dynamics between Max and his best friend Luca add another dimension to the problem. They are both outcasts, for different reasons, and they stick together for moral support. Luca even jumps in when Max is getting beaten up. However, a question arises as Max’s confidence changes. What will happen to their friendship if Max is perceived as less nerdy? Luca isn’t getting any helpful advice from a master criminal to improve himself, so will he be left behind, alone? Their relationship should be relatable for middle-grade readers, as they go through the emotional and physical changes of puberty.
The setting is in a world where supervillains and superheroes are commonplace. Most people are huge fans of the heroes, but Max views them in a totally different manner. He thinks they’re all self-centered jerks. Heroes swoop in to capture criminals without regard for the destruction of public property, and Max asks his mom about the aftermath. Do the heroes clean up the damage, and do they pay for the repairs? Is anyone hurt or killed when the heroes destroy buildings or smash cars and busses? Max doesn’t think criminals are innocent, but the public ignores the harm done by superheroes in the name of upholding the law. Who does more harm to public safety? It’s an interesting perspective about crime fighters.
What didn’t work as well:
Ok, a supervillain compassionately becoming the voice of reason and good judgment for a troubled sixth grader is hard to accept. His comments encourage Max to see the good in himself, and others will respond more positively as he becomes more confident. The first inkling that things may not be all that they seem is when Max enrolls in self-defense classes with Master Plan’s former “villainy aid” (not his henchman). Master Plan seems able to control people and situations even though he’s in prison. The question in the back of Max’s mind remains, “Why is a supervillain willing to help me?”
The Final Verdict:
Advice can be dangerous. This book is delightfully entertaining as Max learns to improve his self-image. Revenge against the bully will only make things worse, so Master Plan offers a method to change the perceptions of Max’s peers. Some parts of the bully story are stereotypical, but the author includes his own nuances to the book. The book should be enjoyable for all middle-grade readers, and I recommend you give it a shot.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*