Super hero books are always a lot of fun, and Almost Super by Marion Jensen is no exception.
Every Leap Year any Bailey that has turned 12 since the last Leap Year gets their super power. Because the Baileys are a family of Supers. This time its Rafter and his brother Benny's turn. On the much anticipated day, disaster strikes. Instead of getting amazing powers to help their family of supers fight crime, Rafter and Benny get silly ridiculous powers. Benny can change is belly button from an innie to an outie. Rafter can strike a match on polyester. This is bad, and the boys are worried because they go to school with Juanita Johnson. The Johnsons are a family of super villains and Juanita was supposed to get her power too. But she didn't get an amazing power either. The Baileys suspect the Johnsons are up to no good as usual, and the Johnsons suspect the Baileys are up to no good. After Juanita confronts Rafter and Benny at school, it is clear that there is much confusion. Because the Johnsons think they're the heroes and the Baileys are the villains. When all the supers lose their powers, it is up to Rafter, Benny, and Juanita to figure out what has gone wrong and save the day.
I have said it before, but it's always worth repeating. Kids love stories where the kids run circles around the grown ups when it comes to being the heroes. Almost Super is a book that captures that well. In the process it makes all the adults seem a bit too ridiculous, but for the tone of this book it works just fine. I enjoyed all three of the kids, but Rafter and Juanita steal the show in this one. They both have a fierce sense of what is right and a desire to do good. Rafter can not wait to take on the mantle of hero. Juanita is more reluctant, but has her reasons. She definitely comes through when her friends and family need her though. I thought Benny's character acted a little younger than his age, but that could be his immaturity next to Rafter. He seemed more like an 8 year old than a 12 year old though.
The mystery in this was a fun one, and watching the kids figure out what the grown ups have been missing for decades is entertaining. There are also exciting gadgets, hidden lairs, and everything that makes a good super hero tale. This is on the younger side of MG, perfect for 3rd-5th graders who love super hero stories but aren't quite ready for Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities or Sidekicked yet.