Friday, May 19, 2017

Captain Absolutely (Homeschool Review Crew)

Captain Absolutely: Battle Against Dr. Relative is a new graphic novel published by Focus on the Family.  It is a compilation of the short stories that were originally featured in Clubhouse magazine.   All seems well in Metropolitanville until suddenly there is a massive computer explosion! Josiah King runs for cover in a room full of Bibles.  Radioactive fumes from the explosion combine with his newfound knowledge of God, and our mild-mannered librarian is transformed into Captain Absolutely and off to battle his former friend Darren-turned-new arch-nemesis, Dr. Relative.

Short stories illustrate truths from "Just because no one is watching doesn't mean I can do whatever I want," to "Defending the truth doesn't always mean doing what's popular."  I think while there is a time for apologetics and debate, there are also times where example by action has more of an effect than any lecturing ever could.  Captain Absolutely effectively combines Biblical foundation with the Captain's behavior to demonstrate a truly Christian lifestyle.  The stories follow the traditional comic book presentation, with bright and bold illustrations and classic Whap! Splat! ZZAAP! "sound" effects. Bible passage references are included in small print near Captain Absolutely's speech bubble when he quotes or paraphrases a Biblical passage.

Having Jude wander off with books is still a novelty to me.  For so long, he resisted even being read to, and now it's rare for me to see him without a book in his hand.  I opened the mailer Captain Absolutely came in, and left the book on the kitchen table until after schoolwork was done. I wanted to look through it before handing it off to a kid, but since I was needed to help with Math, it would have to wait until later.  At lunchtime, Jude ran ahead of me from the basement schoolroom to the kitchen, and by the time I caught up to him, he was already in his chair with his nose buried in the book.  So much for first dibs.

Of course, seeing his brother with a new book meant Damien wanted a turn, too.  I told him he needed to wait until Jude was done the whole book, just like Jude didn't get a turn with Damien's book until he was finished.  At first, Jude and the book were inseparable.  Then, the book disappeared entirely!   A few days later, I went to check on Jude when I went to bed, and the book was in bed with him. He admitted he had finished it, but didn't want to share yet, because he wanted to look at it again.   I asked him what he thought, who were the characters, etc., and expected an overwhelming disgorgement of information, since Jude tends to give dissertation-length recitals of things he is interested in. He told me what had happened in the story, but since these were all new characters to me, I didn't know who was who, and it got confusing keeping stories straight as he regaled me with what was going on. This made me especially appreciative of the Characters sections at the back of the book.

Since Jude obviously read faster than I had been able to to, a quick cram session with these pages helped me at least figure out who he was talking about.  (Especially since he mispronounced many of the names because he was sounding them out phonetically from reading.  It helped reduce the frustration on his end and confusion on mine after he called Captain "Joe-see-uh" instead of Joe-sigh-uh, and Dr. Relative was "Dr. Re-lay-tive" instead of "Rel-uh-tiv.")

Since this book is a compilation of short stories, I would have appreciated a table of contents that showed me where one story ended and the next began.  When he finally got a turn with the book, Damien became overwhelmed. At close to 100 pages in length, the book was too much for him to read at once, but since the stories seemed to flow, it was difficult to divide into manageable chunks.  It would have been really helpful for him to know "This section is one story, you can stop here." There are some spots where it's clear that "This is the end of this story," while others are a little harder to delineate, and he found himself not enjoying it so much, because he found himself in the middle of the next story and needing to stop, but not knowing quite where to go back to re-start it next time.

Though there are points where I think the presentation is a little heavy-handed for the middle-elementary set, Captain Absolutely's story is mostly inspiring and not insipid.  It's not going to be a foundational book for us, but it's a good quality recreational book.

70 families have been reading Captain Absolutely: Battle Against Dr. Relative.  Read their reviews by clicking the banner below.

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

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