Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the CAPE: THE SECRET LEAGUE OF HEROES Blog Tour. Special thanks to Lauren Carr of Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
Title: CAPE: THE SECRET LEAGUE OF HEROES
Author: Kate Hannigan
Pub. Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Simon and Schuster/Aladdin
Josie O’Malley does a lot to help out Mam after her father goes off to fight the Nazis, but she wishes she could do more—like all those caped heroes who now seem to have disappeared. If Josie can’t fly and control weather like her idol, Zenobia, maybe she can put her math smarts to use cracking puzzles for the government.
After an official tosses out her puzzler test because she’s a girl, it soon becomes clear that an even more top-secret agency has its eye on Josie, along with two other applicants: Akiko and Mae. The trio bonds over their shared love of female superhero celebrities, from Hauntima to Zenobia to Hopscotch. But during one extraordinary afternoon, they find themselves transformed into the newest (and youngest!) superheroes in town. As the girls’ abilities slowly begin to emerge, they learn that their skills will be crucial in thwarting a shapeshifting henchman of Hitler, and, just maybe, in solving an even larger mystery about the superheroes who’ve recently gone missing.
Inspired by remarkable real-life women from World War II—the human computers and earliest programmers called “the ENIAC Six”—this pulse-pounding adventure features bold action and brave thinking, with forty-eight pages of comic book style graphic panels throughout the book. Readers will want to don their own capes for an adventure, and realize they have the power to be a superhero, too!
“Whatever strength you need dwells within you.” -Hauntima
A blend of historical fiction and fantasy, CAPE is a fast paced, intriguing adventure that middle grade (and adult) readers will devour! Set during World War II, readers are introduced to three astute and diverse young girls, Josie, Akiko, and Mae. In addition to their shared love of superheroes such as Hauntima and Zenobia, the girls are all missing a loved one fighting overseas. Meeting at puzzler tryouts in the Carson Building, they are each rejected because of their gender but soon discover they have a higher calling. Mrs. Constance Boudica (known as Mrs. B) of Room 12 has been observing all three girls independently and believes collectively, they possess the intelligence, heart, spirit, determination, and courage to join a league of secret heroes to fight injustice. After the superhero, Stretcher is vaporized by Hank Hissler, an evil henchman of Hitler, the girls acquire Stretcher’s cape, mask, and boots which helps them each unearth their own super hero powers.
There are so many reasons I enjoyed reading CAPE. First, Hannigan’s unique plot makes the novel hard to put down. While CAPE is undoubtedly fiction, Hannigan intertwines real life elements of the period such as the discrimination that particular ethnic groups faced during World War II as well as characters based on actual people who supported the war effort like Josie’s cousin Kay who worked as a human computer during the war. I absolutely love the camaraderie between Josie, Akiko, and Mae. While all strong as individuals, they soon realize their super powers are not derived from Stretcher’s costume but rather through their common belief in wanting to do good and not giving up when things get tough. This is a great lesson for middle grade readers. Interspersed throughout the novel are Patrick Spaziante’s incredibly illustrated comic panel sequences which depict the girls’ transformation into superheroes and their fight against evil, which will make the novel even more appealing to readers.
In an 11 page author’s note, Hannigan explains the inspiration for CAPE which began with the simple question: Who came before Wonder Woman? As she researched early superheroes, Hannigan discovers real life female heroes such as the six women who were the ENIAC Six (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Recommended resources for further research are also included.
And what makes me even more excited is CAPE will be followed by MASK and BOOTS in The League of Secret Heroes series. Stay tuned for release dates. I look forward to sharing CAPE with my students when school begins!
Check out the compelling plot by viewing the book trailer below.
About the Author:
is a noted author with a special passion for stories that empower girls and women. Her picture and middle grade books have received high praise, multiple starred reviews, selected for Booklist Editor’s Choice and a Golden Kite Award for Middle Grade fiction. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Please visit her at KateHannigan.com.