Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
(Orca Book Publishers, 2004)
Perfect Man is a perfect book to begin the new school year.
Perfect Man is a real superhero who has done many amazing feats to save the world time and time again. Naturally, he is idolized and there is no bigger fan of Perfect Man than little Michael Maxwell McAllum. To Michael, Perfect Man rocks! He rules! He is the superhero of superheroes!
But then Perfect Man holds a press conference to announce he is getting out of the superhero biz. Lots of other able rescuers in masks and capes. Perfect Man will stick to his human identity. A reporter asks, “What will you do?” The reply: “Oh, I’ll find something. After all, there’s more than one way to save the world.”
The announcement doesn’t faze Michael Maxwell McAllum. Perfect Man will be back. He always returns.
But time passes and the other superheroes take on all the menacing threats to society.
When school resumes in September, Michael discovers Perfect Man’s new identity. Yes, he is Mr. Clark, Michael’s new teacher.
Michael didn’t recognize him at first. He wasn’t wearing his costume anymore. His hair was thinner. His stomach was rounder.
Oh, how this book makes me do cartwheels! In my mind, at least. I am not a gymnastically gifted superhero. How wonderful for a teacher to be portrayed as a superhero, saving the world one student, one class at a time!
He saw all the good stuff and helped them bring it out. He helped them find their super powers.
One of my all-time favorite picture book illustrations appears near the end of the book. Dean Griffiths provides an aerial view of the classroom, with Michael hovering by Mr. Clark’s desk as the two talk about Michael’s power to write. The rest of the students have cleared out for recess or for home, but Michael is completely captivated by his teacher’s inspiring words. Yes, this is how teachers can be “superhuman”, inspiring children to do their own super deeds.
Part “The Incredibles”, part Frindle, this is a book to warm every teacher, to reaffirm why we work so hard in the classroom, in the halls and on the playground. Enjoy!