Feature Book of the Week:Sidekicked by John David Anderson

Monday, September 21, 2015


John David Anderson

The Avengers meets Louis Sachar in this hilarious and action-packed tween novel by John David Anderson, which Publishers Weekly called a "superhero story that any comics fan will enjoy" in a starred review.
Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn't mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there's Drew's power: Possessed of super senses—his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet—he's literally the most sensitive kid in school. Then there's his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than fighting crime. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers.
But this is all before a supervillain long thought dead returns to the city of Justicia, superheroes begin disappearing at an alarming rate, and Drew's two identities threaten to crash head-on into each other. Drew has always found it pretty easy to separate right from wrong, good from evil. It's what a superhero does. But what happens when that line starts to disappear?

Author Post

Imaginations are heady things.

Sometimes, a lot of times, I use my imagination to get away. That’s the joy of being a writer (or one of the joys anyways, outside of all of the free chocolate you get when you go up to people and say, “Yo, I’m a writer, give me some chocolate.”)—this ability to transcend the mendacity of daily life to go open wardrobe doors and fight frosty queens alongside goat people or whatever. Or to blast off to outer space and pretend that Pluto is not only still a planet, but is, in fact, inhabited by a race of hyper-intelligent toddlers who have constructed a world completely out of Lincoln Logs. Imaginations are the ultimate escape routes. They are the travel agents of the mind. 

Sometimes, not too often, my imagination lets me get away with stuff. Like when I told my mother that I accidentally spilled fruit punch all down the front of my shirt because a bee landed on my thumb and scared the bee-jeezus out of me, causing my hand to jerk uncontrollably, when, in actuality, I had just poured it on my chest deliberately because I was pretending that an alien was bursting out of my chest and the fruit punch was the closest the thing we had to fake blood—the ketchup bottle being mostly empty and our jelly always being grape. On a related note, I probably watched too much cable television as a kid.

Sometimes, every once in a while, my imagination gets away from me. Those are the best times of all. Some people call them “moments of inspiration.” You can’t predict them. Sometimes they’re short little bursts, like brain sneezes. Like when you are thinking about something completely normal, like what to make for dinner, and all of the sudden an image of a chainsaw-wielding psycho zombie clown with one eyeball and a giant red bulbous clown nose like a ripe tomato pops into your head and asks you if you’d like some cotton candy, and you think to yourself—Man, where did that come from?

Or maybe that’s just me. Clowns freak me out a little.
Sometimes they are long reveries, those foggy, surreal daydreams, like you’re thinking in pastels or watercolors, everything swirling and chaotic and weird, but you catch hold of something, an inkling, a teaser trailer (complete with John Williams musical score) and your like, “Whoa. I gotta write this down,” but you don’t, because you are forgetful. And that darn clown is still chasing after you.
Still, it sits there, this fleeting inspiration, somewhere in that marvelous contraption we call a brain. And it germinates. And you work it lie a cow works cud, sometimes with that same doe-eyed expression that a cow gets, turning it over and over in your head, adding logic and form, pulling threads from the complex webs that populate the other places in your skull, and tying them all together, until you’ve taken that inspiration and turned into an idea. I’m told that’s called being creative.

Sidekicked started with one of those brain sneezes. An image of a boy dangling above a pool of acid waiting for someone to save him and knowing that no one’s gonna. And I pulled and tied and wove and trimmed and tucked and cursed until I had an idea, a question really, about who this kid was and why he wasn’t getting saved, and then those questions got answers and those answers became a novel. But it all started with that one image—and I have no idea where it came from or why, of the thousands of brain sneezes I get a day, that one stuck with me.    

People are always asking me where my ideas come from (after telling me that they don’t actually have any chocolate and I should really stop asking). I give all kinds of answers. Fairies. Muses. Other books. The world around me. Conversations with my kids. Things I overhear at the Great Clips. The truth is, I really don’t know.

We really don’t know. The imagination is still a mystery to us. A beautiful, wonderful, perplexing, frustrating, enchanting mystery. It may not exactly be the thing that makes us human, but it certainly makes being human more interesting. And I couldn’t imagine being without one.

Just don’t tell the clown.

About the Author

John David Anderson writes novels. Lots of novels. He just doesn't always get them published.  He is the author of SidekickedMinionStandard Hero Behavior, and the soon-to-be-released The Dungeoneers. He lives with his patient wife and brilliant twins in Indianapolis, Indiana, right next to a State park and a Walmart. He does not wear ties but will wear sandals in the snow. He enjoys hiking, reading, chocolate, spending time with his family, playing the piano, chocolate, making board games, chocolate, not putting away his laundry, watching movies, and chocolate. Those aren't his real teeth. Seriously. The middle four on top? Lost 'em in a car accident. It's all right, though, the plastic ones look nice and he can still eat corn on the cob. Learn more about John David Anderson on his website.

13 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe that SideKicked did a great job of incorporating the superhero world into our world. I also really enjoyed the witty narrator. From Hixson

Anonymous said...

Sidekicked was the one of the best books I have ever read! It has action, adventure, and romance. Andrew has really cool powers; he amazing senses. He can smell better and hear better than the average human being. I enjoyed the book so much, and I couldn't put it down. I actually read it all in one day! Ismail from Hixson

Anonymous said...

This book had lots of action. The huge twist at the end and the completely different world that is in the book. All of the superheroes gave the book tons of action. From Hixson.

Mrs. Poole said...

This sounds like an action readers dream! Worried it might be your typical superhero story, so we are hoping something will make this story unique.

-Hazelwood Central Middle School Book Battle

Aliyah said...

I can relate to being freaked out by clowns. I think clowns are really weird and give me the heebee jeebees. That's why I don't go to McDonalds anymore. ~Aliyah, Lift for Life Academy

Talia said...

I would read this book because I really love superhero books. His two identities threaten to crash head-on into each other> I really love how he is managing school and saving the city. ~Talia, Lift for Life Academy

Anonymous said...

I just read this book, so many twist I cant count them

Anonymous said...

sidekick sounds like a book for andventuers cant wait to read


Caroline From Hixson said...

I thought Sidekicked by John David Anderson was a great book! I liked how in the beginning and the end Andrew is hung over a pool of a deadly material. It gives the book a nice way of coming to the end. The plot twist caught me completely off guard and rocked my world inside the book. I think a lot of kids can relate to this book because sometimes its hard to balance everything in your life. Only with Andrew he has to balance being a sidekicked sidekick. A great read in my opinion that left me on the edge of my seat!

-Caroline At Hixson :)

Kelly Collins- Hixon Middle said...

I loved this book, it started in the action and had you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Not only did I like the action but I also like the hint of romance. The ending of the book was a twist that I'm almost positive no one saw coming.

Anonymous said...

-Ladue Middle School-
in side kicked i wanted to get another book because it was boring but then i realized it was awesome

Anonymous said...

-Ladue Middle School-
In Side Kicked, the boy is a lot like your ordinary boy. This is wonderful for me, being a kid teacher, to help my student be imaginative and allows me to put my student in his shoe. This is important for me also because of the way the story was shaped. The story was made in a fashion that makes a young reader,in my opinion, doze off and then get snapped back into reality. The part where he is going home; ok, then he get talked by his teacher in a time frozen world; my student loved that you could be in a time frozen world. This book for myself was great with a straight-into-the-action book.

Unknown said...

Jacob-Windsor Middle School
The protagonist was very detailed. He and his super finally got along in the end.

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