Pizazz by Sophy Henn
"With a ridiculous name like Pizazz, I should probably be a magician, or a pop star, or a really smelly perfume, but I am not any of those things."
The first in an exciting new series for readers aged seven and upwards, this introduces Pizazz who is nine-and-a-quarter. She is almost nine-and-a-half (we all know how important those fractions are) and is also a superhero. Pizazz is far from thrilled about this, however, and suffers many indignities and impositions on account of her extraordinary abilities and their associated responsibilities.
Imagine how inconvenient it would be to have to zoom off on a mission when about to eat a delicious ice-cream or pizza. Or being interrupted when in the middle of reading a book, just when you're at a really good part. Or trying to stay awake at school after spending the previous night saving the world, which often involves being covered in unpleasant and foul-smelling matter.
Pizazz is from a family of superheroes which includes a flatulent grandad with flammable emissions: "you absolutely CANNOT make him laugh if he is sitting on the posh sofa in the fancy room." There's also the aunt that nobody talks about because she's now a super villain and an adorable cone-wearing mission-control dog. Top of the list of Pizazz's irritations is her little sister, Red Dragon, who is especially annoying on account of Pizazz envying her name and her super-power.
You might think that Pizazz's own super-power is eye-rolling as she does that so often. In fact, her special talent is something that she finds so embarrassing, she won't even discuss it. The reader doesn't find out what it is until close to the end of the story.
Pizazz is having trouble fitting in and finding friends at a new school after her family moves to a different town. When a teacher makes Pizazz the class Eco Monitor, a fellow student asks her to help save a local park from destruction. Pizazz finds herself facing enemies far worse, and much harder to defeat, than super-villains: mean girls and evil corporations.
There's lots of interesting typography that reflects the mood and action, and fabulous comic-book style illustrations add even more humour. Sophy Henn is an award-winning and bestselling author and illustrator of several beautiful picture books, and the Bad Nana series. We have Where Bear? and love it (review coming soon). Henn told the Bookseller that all her books are "little letters" to her "daughter at a younger age."
Pizazz is a brilliant character and I love her witty remarks and rebellious streak. The consequences of her actions are often hilarious and the way she describes and interprets what happens is extremely funny. Pizazz has so many amusing lines, but I think my favourite is: "I haven't been that embarrassed since I was hit on the head with a LLAMA (it's a long story)."
Although she is "super," Pizazz has lots of "ordinary" problems, and is capable of feeling just as powerless as other children might. Pizazz shows young readers that everyone can experience difficulties and dislike things about themselves, even superheroes. The environmental activities of Pizazz and her friends demonstrates how anyone can make a positive change to the world around them, even a child.
The sequel to Pizazz, Pizazz vs the New Kid has just released and the third instalment is out in June. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest. Pizazz is action-packed and full of everyday drama to which young children will easily relate, as well as plenty of laugh-out loud moments. This book is ideal for tempting reluctant readers but will be adored by enthusiastic readers too. Just like its main character, Pizazz is absolutely super!
Published by Simon & Schuster, 6th August 2020.