Review of Stuntboy, In-Between Time

Stuntboy, In-Between TimeStuntboy, In-Between Time
by Jason Reynolds; illus. by Raúl the Third
Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    272 pp.
8/23    9781534418226    $14.99
e-book ed.  9781534418240    $9.99

Set one week after its predecessor (Stuntboy, in the Meantime, rev. 1/22), this illustrated novel follows Portico Reeves through one very eventful day as the self-appointed superhero struggles with anxiety (“the frets”), dabbles in misbehavior, and confronts his parents’ recent separation. When Portico’s mother sends him off on what should be a short two-floor trip to his father’s new apartment for their very first “DAD-urday,” the young hero is weighed down by both literal and figurative baggage: carrying a garbage bag of old apartment leftovers and the fear of permanently being “in-between” his parents. Once Portico meets up with his two best friends, he quickly strays off-course thanks to run-ins with bizarre bullies, eccentric neighbors, and out-there scenarios (like catching seventeen iguanas). Presented as if episodes of a retro TV show (complete with theme music, commercial breaks, etc.), each self-contained chapter generally features a new problem and speedy resolve; however, Reynolds’s imaginative, layered storytelling continuously explores large, overarching themes of family, friendship, and belonging with recurring motifs and metaphors. Supporting and expanding the lively text are Raúl the Third’s kinetic illustrations, playful characterizations, and eye-popping spreads. A lived-in, tactile quality to the overall design is achieved through thoughtful coloring, engaging layouts, and an incorporation of real-world textures such as bricks, plaster, and paint. While a realistic resolution is achieved for Portico’s family, Stuntboy’s outrageous adventures (thankfully) don’t seem to be over yet.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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