The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon.

This bright and colourful book is ideally suited to KS1.  Upon reading this to my Year 1 class, the children got closer and closer with every turn of the page. So close that I thought I may need a positronic force field to prevent them from climbing on me to get into the book!

Awesome man is a character that this age range can really relate to and his little dog Moskowitz is a charming addition to the story.  This superhero shares his day with the reader, taking them on an adventure to defeat his arch nemeses, The Flaming Eyeball, through a journey of high emotion and thoughtful consideration.  The secret identity of Amazing Man is the key to this book so I won’t give it away, but the suspense of this secret is just one of the clever ways in which Chabon keeps the reader glued to the story.

Suggested activities that can be linked to the KS1 curriculum:

DRAMA

Can the children hide their secret identity as school children and become their own superhero? What will their hero sound like? Walk like? What will their superhero do that makes them amazing? Can they act out their own hero scene where their character uses their special powers for good?

LITERACY

Can the children orally devise alliteration or similes to describe something about their favourite superhero as Chabon does at the beginning of the book, where he describes Awesome Man’s cape to be “as red as a rocket”? Can children use connectives of sequence as they use their imaginations to describe what happens in the day of a superhero?

DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY

The children could design, make and evaluate a superhero character from fabric.  Will the character have a cape as red as Awesome Man’s? Will the superhero be male or female? Tall or short? What could make their hero special?

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

A warm up game for the children could include some of the popular actions of Awesome Man. With the children in a space, the CT gives the commands for them to follow in order to be awesome.  “Fly high!” would mean the children should jump up on the spot, aiming for the stars. “Fly straight” could command the children to fly around the room. “Power grip” could mean to find a partner and hug them. “Catch the Flaming Eyeball!” would mean children need to fly and land on top of a PE spot. The phrase“Awesome pose” would let the children know that they need to adopt a suitable superhero pose, and obviously the CT would have to demonstrate!

PSHE

Alongside all of these possible activities, children can use this storybook to consider the impact of their own actions, taking responsibility for their decisions at an age where there are so many changes and expectations as their educational journey becomes more formalised.  Awesome man had to be careful when he was angry because his strength may hurt other people.  Have any of the other children felt like this? What can they do if they feel like this? Who do they use a power grip on? How does this make them feel?

A thought-provoking and activity inspiring read.  A must for any superhero themed classrooms!

Lyanne Morrison

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