Like Jack and super hero Stan, the brothers in this excellent debut picture book from Matt Robertson, my brother and I had a somewhat strained relationship. It’s hard to say who was the super hero in my house – neither of us could fly, and I don’t recall slipping into a lycra all-in-one (although it was a while ago, admittedly). But the truth is that we never quite clicked, not in the way brothers should. Things may have been different if we’d had Super Stan to read.
In the book, Stan steals every moment and saves the day; poor Jack is fed up with always being second, always overlooked in favour of his cape-wearing sibling. Eventually, when Jack is pushed to his limits, the relationship is redeemed when Stan realises he needs Jack after all.
This is a perfect book for anyone with siblings, capturing the relationship beautifully. It works for boys in particular, but not exclusively (my daughter was intrigued by the relationships between older and younger sibling, for example – the fact that they were both boys didn’t spoil it).
The story is simply told but it is Matt Robertson’s illustrations that raise the bar; they are witty, full of charm, personality and colour. The interplay between words and pictures is very nicely done; he knows when to let the pictures do the talking (there’s a great section where Jack discovers why the previously infallible Stan is balling his eyes out – it takes a bit of visual deciphering to work out what’s happening).
Super Stan book is warm and endearing; it sends the message that it’s OK for boys to be strong and brave, but they need to be kind and look after each other too. A delightful first book and, most touching of all, Matt Robertson decided to dedicate the book to his brother.
A copy of Super Stan was provided by the author.