This tween graphic novel of our favorite Muslim superhero is authored and illustrated by a new Muslim duo that share an OWN voice story over 110 pages about balancing life and priorities and making time for family. There is a little bit of action, but the majority of the plot, really is balancing it all, with the help of school friends, one being the hijab wearing brilliant Nakia, and Kamala’s friends from Avengers Training: Miles Morales (Spider-Man) and Tippy Toe (Squirrel Girl). This seems to be a different format of a lot of the same story-line found in the Avengers Assembly: Orientation book, but for fans of the characters and genre, this middle grades graphic novel (comic book?) will be well received with it’s easy to follow panels and relatable story. For desi and/or Muslim kids they will appreciate the mehndi celebration, the hijab wearing side characters, the pressure to do well in Quran class, and the tight rope Kamala’s parents give the mixed gender group of friends.
Kamala is being stretched thin with school, super hero training, writing her fan fic, moderating the website, and helping out with her nephew Malik while her brother and sister-in law are on vacation. The stress has her embiggening all out of whack too, it is a lot for one girl, and when an evil robot takes advantage it will mean even more disappointment for her Ammi. Kamala ruins her fancy mehndi dress and in embarrassment makes her family leave early, she is late to pick up Malik, and she is sleeping through school. Finally, with the only two people that know about her alter ego, Kamala gets help from Nakia and Bruno to take down the robot. She then combines her “club” friends, with her school friends, so that her family can meet everyone, and they can hopefully help her feel more at easy and less stretched thin.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I don’t mind the story telling being more personal and less action, but the robot element is really underdeveloped and very much minimized, I’m not even really sure what the point of it was and how it was resolved. The book seems to be confused if the kids are pre teen or teens, they are called both in the book, and I don’t know if it is an error, or is a joke from Tony Stark, but the voice seems to be ambiguous as well, which makes it hard to completely connect to the characters. I wish the mom wouldn’t cover when at home, I mean I’m glad to see her covering and talking about Quran and all, but being an OWN voice portrayal, it would have been nice to see that detail. The way that the friends as boys is handled is actually really well, it doesn’t become a whole religious or cultural soap box issue, but chaperones are present and the mom is on top of it. There is no hint that anything would be going on, but it is nice to see that accurate representation. I also like the diversity that is present even within the Desi family. Sadly, the book as a stand alone is rather forgettable, I’m not entirely sure what to compare it to, if there will be more in this particular series, or just more like it from other MCU characters, but for people that love Marvel, at least this rep exists if nothing else, it does offer a reminder to all kids to prioritize their time, ask for help when needed, and to make space for their families.
Clean. There is a destruction seeking robot and villain, but very tame.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I think the book would be fun on any middle grade classroom shelf. There isn’t much to discuss, but kids especially in Islamic schools will enjoy the representation.