Ashley Rayburn is meeting some new foster parents: scientist Yuka and artist Kitch Nolan. While she likes them a lot, she doesn’t think it will ultimately work out. Ashley is unfortunately a magnet for trouble. She supposes she gets it from her dad, who is currently in prison. As Ashley adjusts to her new home and school, warms up to Yuka and Kitch, and makes a new friend in Luke, it feels like things are looking up. It’s not long before she discovers a briefcase of new paints which look innocent at first… but it turns out they are body paints which grant the wearer special powers! She can be a superhero! However, the government was promised those paints for the military, and they want them back. Ashley must make a choice: to save herself, or save her new family.

While this is a middle-grade novel, and the story to me was pretty predictable, it was still a delightful ride!

The main theme of this book is family: blood and chosen. While we see Ashley’s father insist he is her real family, the audience can see he’s not a fit parent. While Yuka, Kitch, and Luke may not be related to Ashley by blood, we can see how much they care for her, and how much Ashley eventually comes to care for them. Having a family doesn’t always mean blood relations, but sometimes instead those who love and care for you.

I loved all of the non-traditional gender roles that pervaded this book. Yuka is a woman who is a scientist and avid football fan. Kitch is a man who is a teacher, artist, and who loves to cook. Luke is a boy in Ashley’s class who is aspiring to become a hairstylist. It added to the overall quirkiness of the story, and made for some great jokes, but this is also very important representation kids need to see.

In a refreshing change from many of DC’s main titles, the art in this graphic novel was so bright, and vibrant, and fun! Colors are splashed every which way. The figures were cartoony and exaggerated, but it only served the overall happy and fun tone of the story.

This middle-grade novel introduces a fun new superhero to children, though older kids and adults will love it too. It’s a fun, fast, light-hearted read that’s full of color and love. I’m looking forward to more!

Kathleen

Muro, Jennifer, Thomas Krajewski, and Gretel Lusky. Primer. 2020.