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The Great Cape Rescue

Last updated Monday, June 9, 2008

Author: Phyllis Shalant
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0525474048
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2008

Synopsis: From Amazon.com: It looks like a secondhand towel, but when Finch wears the cape he found at a garage sale, it seems to talk to him (and to his three best buddies), helping the four new fourth-graders handle schoolyard bullies and problems at home. Though the kids take "the Oath," to solve problems by thinking instead of fighting, the story isn't messagey. Thinking Cape's intervention offers more sly, secret tricks than comfort; in fact, Thinking Cape can sometimes be annoying, oversensitive, sad, and bossy. Stories of famous superheroes and their powerful capes, from Sinbad to Superman to Harry Potter, are an entertaining part of the telling. In what is clearly the first of a series, Shalant brings kids' fantasies into ordinary life, and whether Finch is planning a surprise birthday party for his shy new teacher or dealing with his divorced dad and new sibling, this will entertain kids who like stories about regular kids who turn superhero--even if they don't do it all by themselves.

Note to readers:
•  Note: The first few chapters are introductory. They let you know the boy, Finch, lives with his mother and sister. He just started 4th grade with a new teacher. He and his three friends like to play superhero but feel they have outgrown this. Finch has a cape but he no longer wears it. There are bullies at his school. Start from Chapter 5.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you ever play superheroes?
•  Who is your favorite superhero? Why do you like him or her?
•  Are there girl superheroes? Can girls be superheroes?
•  What would your super powers be if you were a superhero?
•  How would you use them to help others?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How did Finch use his superpowers?
•  Is it better to avoid violence than to fight?
•  Does the cape give him courage?
•  What gives you courage that others can’t see or hear?
•  Does acting like you're not afraid make you brave? (Yes)
•  Who is your favorite Superhero?
•  Are there any real heroes in your daily life that you look up to?
•  Have you had to deal with bullies? What do you think is the best thing to do when someone is picking on you?
•  Did you have a favorite toy when you were younger? What is it?
•  Do you think Finch and his friends are too old to play superheroes?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a superhero costume–a mask for the face, a belt wristbands or headband.
•  Bring ahead option: Make a superhero cape out of newspaper. Tape 2 sheets of newspaper together. Decorate/color it, fold one end of the paper on string yarn about an inch down. Glue/staple to secure. Tie the cape around the neck.
•  Make a superhero oath and ID card. Have them create a superhero logo.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!