Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy: Grow Up!

Written by D.J. Steinberg
Art by Brian Smith
96 pages, color
Published by Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Books

I’d never heard of this series of children’s graphic novels until one randomly appeared in my mailbox, and for about a week I somehow forgot all about it. Then I was at a large family get together where, after dinner, my partner and I were attempting to entertain a 6-year old, a 5-year old, and a 4-year old. Well, it’s been a week and my ears are still ringing a bit from all the shouting at their end, and all of the sudden a graphic novel series about a kid who is incredibly loud made perfect sense to me, and turned into required reading. Once I found out that another superhero in the book’s power was throwing tantrums, well, I was hooked.

The Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy series stars five kid superheroes in all; Loud Boy, Chatterbox, Tantrum Girl, Destructo-Kid, and Fidget. I think it goes without saying that you can figure out what each of the children can do without needing any sort of additional information. What struck me almost instantly is how well D.J. Steinberg manages to merge the world of kid’s adventure with superheroes; it’s got problems with school administrators, an evil factory that parents unwittingly work at, and a kind-hearted uncle who knows the secret of the kids and helps them in their adventures. Really, kid’s adventure and superheroes are in some ways only different in that normally kid’s adventure either has no superpowers, or they’re something of limited usage and granted to them throughout the course of the story (like a wishing ring or a genie in a bottle). Here, the kids come pre-armed with super abilities, which lets Steinberg dive right into the latest plot. Grow Up! gives the origin of the youngest member of the group, Loud Boy’s little sister Chatterbox who didn’t get her powers by a strange bolt of lightning when the other four were born. It’s part of a larger story involving the evil factory trying to steal the youth of children and put it into adults, even while Tantrum Girl has to learn how to calm down or she’ll get sent to a special school away from all of her friends.

What I appreciated was that not only does Steinberg make sure that all of the storylines eventually intersect, but that it happens in a way where one piece folds directly into the next, and so on. As a kid, I know I always appreciated stories where everything fit together extra well, and that’s definitely what we get here. The story is also full of lots of funny little moments, from a series of rubber bands used to bounce a meteor back into space to the traps that the factory lays out to snare each of the kids. It’s not high science going on here, but Steinberg makes everything logical and funny for a younger reader. My favorite part was probably where Tantrum Girl’s ability turns out to have a detrimental side and might get her thrown out of school, though; it makes perfect sense, and having been around boisterous children for an evening, I can definitely see where that would be a problem.

Brian Smith’s art is simple and clean, but strong on the physical comedy. He nails the montage scene of Tantrum Girl trying different ways to calm down, putting a lot of humor into each panel as she tries another book’s suggestions. Smith also does a nice job with drawing the children acting like senior citizens, and vice versa. With a stripped down art style, there isn’t room for a lot of finer details, but he still pulls it off with physical humor and action to carry the jokes.

I wasn’t expecting too much from The Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy: Grow Up!, but I must admit that I was charmed by it at the end of the day. It moves at a good crisp pace, and despite being the fourth book in a series there’s never any worry about feeling lost or behind the times. For a younger readers book, I think this hits every single goal it sets for itself. I know I had fun reading it, and I suspect the younger kids I was watching a week ago would have liked it too.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

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