Book Review: Baron von Baddie and the Ice Ray Incident
If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Saved by the Bell” alone, you know that it isn’t as much fun when there’s no one watching with you. The show is better if there is someone for you to interact with. Taking in “Jessie’s Song” with a friend: 10. The same episode by yourself: 7. A similar principle can be applied to doing something sneaky. If no one is there to say “no”, it’s not much fun. Certain kids know this concept well. “Baron von Baddie and the Ice Ray Incident”, by George McClements (Night of the Veggie Monster), takes this simple premise and applies it to the world of superheroes. A wonderfully illustrated story that will be hard for kids to resist.
Baron von Baddie is an evil genius with evil plans to spare. Unfortunately, whenever he attempts to unleash one of his plots on the world, Captain Kapow is there to ruin it, putting the Baron behind bars. But for an evil genius, escape is inevitable. A cycle of capture and escape continues until one day, the Baron gets lucky: an accidental blast from his Ice Ray freezes Kapow. With his arch nemesis out of the way, von Baddie doesn’t know what to do with himself. He builds new evil robots, eats doughnuts, and changes the days of the week, but it just isn’t the same. The Baron realizes that Captain Kapow made his job worth doing, and begins working on a new invention that will set his enemy free.
It isn’t very often when you can say this: with “Baron”, every turn of the page is a gift. Each image is inventive and intricate. McClements mixed media collage illustrations have never looked better, with characters taking shape from a number of expertly used resources – paper, chalk, and photographic cut-outs. They encourage you to get up close and examine the details.
Just as the Baron needs Captain Kapow as audience and foil to his devilish deeds, librarians everywhere should share this title with their own audience. A read aloud winner.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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