Wilson, Troy and Griffiths, Dean. Perfect Man. Orca Book Publishers: Victoria, 2004. 32 pgs. (For the 3-6ish year old set).
One of our latest kidlit acquisitions comes in the form of Perfect Man, written by Troy Wilson and illustrated (comic book style) by Dean Griffiths. Boy-o plucked Perfect Man off the shelves in a bookstore one day and insisted this was the book for him. So insistant that this was the book he wanted, his parentals agreed to take it home unpreviewed, which is a darn rare occurence (because there is an astounding amount of shitty-assed kidlit out there, friends). Anyhow - the gamble paid off. Perfect Man is pretty darned good. Maybe even pretty darned great. It tells the story of a young boy, Michael Maxwell McAllum, who loves to write, and who is infatuated with a super hero, aptly named Perfect Man. Perfect Man's absence leaves a gap in the boy's life, but this gap is soon filled by a marvellous teacher by the name of Mr. Clark. Michael Maxwell McAllum soon decides that Mr. Clark is Perfect Man, gone off the grid and incognito. The story of the relationship between Michael and Mr. Clark plays out in a lovely way, with Mr. Clark encouraging Michael's love of writing and such. It's good. It's sweet. And Boy-o loves it with a capital L. I don't mind it, either, which is more than I can say about Boy-o's growing collection of Diego books. And the subtle challenge to readers about rethinking the superhero is an excellent message to kids in a world that shoves the superhero crap down boys throats.
My personal favourite part of the book is the advice Mr. Clark gives Michael about honing the craft of writing: "'You have to live,' said Mr. Clark. 'You have to try new things. You have to meet new people. That's what good writers do. They live. And it's all research. Every second of it'" (24).
I love this sentiment. It makes the book, which is pretty great even without this thought, even better. I've even used on it myself a few times lately, when I've been feeling like a screw-up.
***It's all research. Every second of it.***