At least that's what Stuart thinks. He has moved to a new town, and things aren't going so well. For starters, he put his box of special stuff by the curb for the movers, and the garbage truck carried it off instead. School is starting in a few days, he doesn't know anybody, and he's worried. What if he's the shortest kid in his class? What if he can't find the bathroom? What if he finds the bathroom, but gets locked inside? What if he doesn't make any friends? Stuart is very good at worrying.
Plus he's bored. He wants to have an adventure. It suddenly occurs to him that adventures only happen to people in capes, and he doesn't have one. His mother thinks it's nonsense. "People can have adventures in dresses, or nice, warm, sweaters," she says. But when pressed, neither she nor his father can come up with a single person in a nice, warm sweater who's actually had a real adventure.
Then Stuart discovers an old box labeled "Stuff from Great Uncle Nestor's Magic Act." Inside is some old junk his family's going to throw out, including a bunch of of old ties. Stuart takes the ties and staples them into a magnificent cape - and the adventures begin.
He is visited by a gorilla, a horse and a dinosaur, discovers he can fly (sort of), grows toast, learns about the magic of trading places - and realizes that along with capes come responsibilities. This is a charming book, full of humor and the unexpected. Every page comes with an illustration, so this is a great book for kids transitioning from easy readers to longer chapter books - and for any kid who enjoys quirky adventure stories. This is my first book by Sara Pennypacker, and my children and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We are looking forward to reading the sequel, Stuart Goes to School, but in the meantime we've started Clementine, which already had us giggling by the second page.
Stuart's Cape by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Martin Matje (Orchard Books, 2002)
Publisher recommends for ages 4 - 8.