Booklist Reviews

Scarlet, a psychologist and educator, teams up with Marvel and DC Comics artist Alves to take six (original) superheroes through simple techniques for coping with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other struggles associated with (though not limited to) adolescence. Scarlet was inspired by the immune system disorder she developed as a child after the Chernobyl disaster; in the U.S., she was bullied for being "radioactive." Here she outlines a program of exercises in "acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)" and "self-compassion" for a circle of crime fighters dealing with shame, anxiety, and behaviors like panic attacks and cutting. Though readers may find Scarlet's personal story the most absorbing part, the color illustrations on almost every other page do feature a cast of horned, leering "monsters" and (led by the author herself as discussion leader) human figures of diverse age and race in dashing spandex garb. The conceit, along with some eye-catching art and a focus on setting simple, achievable daily goals, makes this a promising alternative to more conventional self-help programs. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Psychologist Scarlet, a childhood survivor of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, draws on the techniques of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in this innovative approach to helping readers with emotional and psychological difficulties. Explaining how she found solace and inspiration through superhero movies and comics as a child, Scarlet introduces five original characters who are beset by anxiety, depression, anger, and shame, represented as a variety of monsters; both the heroes and the villains they face are brought to life in full-color panels drawn by comics artist Alves. At the Superhero Training Academy, Scarlet teaches the besieged heroes mindfulness techniques, along with readers. Watching these superheroes openly challenge their fears and wounding self-conceptions should prove encouraging to readers who know that all heroes have their weaknesses. Ages 13–up. (Aug.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—Chernobyl fallout survivor Scarlet uses her own difficult experiences growing up to create a compact self-help guide for superhero fans. The book uses superheroes with a variety of problems to present ideas taken from acceptance and commitment therapy, research-supported interventions, and mindfulness techniques to help readers deal with anxiety, depression, and trauma. The heroes address the issues of cutting, eating disorders, PTSD, social anxiety, agoraphobia, shame, and anger. Readers are encouraged to enter "Superhero Training" and learn from and along with Scarlet's characters. Each chapter concludes with a "Superhero Steps" box of suggestions to practice being grateful, find things they like about themselves, identify their values, open up to hard thoughts and feelings, and engage in self-compassion. The pages of text are liberally mixed with separate pages of comic book—style illustrations. The art itself is illustrative of the text and does a good job depicting the character's emotions. However, it lacks the appeal, composition and detail most comic book connoisseurs have come to expect. Scarlet's writing is clear and compassionate, but, despite the text's sound advice, the superhero trope will likely wear thin on those who are not fans. VERDICT Recommended self-help wherever superhero themes are popular.—Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.