“Freddie finds a mysterious package outside his apartment containing sneakers that allow him to run faster than a train, and inspire him to perform heroic deeds.” (Follett Titlewave)
Freddie’s father died while serving in the military, so Freddie and his hard-working mother are struggling to make ends meet. Freddie is very excited to receive new sneakers–especially ones with super power!
A touch of mystery surrounds who sent Freddie the sneakers, who stole a classmate’s lunch, and who is scribbling graffiti at the apartment complex???
This disarmingly simple story is skillfully written.
The setting is urban, and the characters are poor but hardworking, respectful and loving.
Freddie’s Mom is an excellent single parent role model. She returns to school to get a better paying job, works in an office (where Freddie can reach her by phone if need be), calls Freddie a pet name that lets him know that she loves him, expects Freddie to do his homework and inspects it, asks for Freddie’s input (Want pizza tonight for dinner?), and spends leisure time with him watching some TV and reading a library book together at bedtime.
Freddie is respectful of his mother, his classroom teacher and the apartment building supervisor. Freddie refers to his father as “my hero dad.”
Freddie’s family is obviously Hispanic (Spanish words sprinkled into the story, last name Ramos, the spelling of his Uncle Jorge’s name), but it is never explicitly stated.
Frequent black and white cartoon illustrations by Miguel Benitez add popular appeal.
I’m always looking for short chapter books to recommend to our students who are too advanced for beginning readers but lose heart before making it to the end of a chapter book. This series fits the bill very nicely.
Readers who enjoy Greg Trine’s Melvin Beederman Superhero series will be excited to discover this series as well. Freddie’s world is grounded in reality while Melvin Beederman lives in a silly cartoon-like world. However, the book layouts and reading levels are very similar.
Book 1 in the Zapata Power series.
Interest level: K-3; Reading level: 3.1
Planning to buy this whole series for the Webster Christian School Library.
Awards/Lists: Cybils Award Winner 2010- Short Chapter Book