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  • Alisa Williams

Book Review: Cape by Kate Hannigan

Cape The League of Secret Heroes Book One

Cape by Kate Hannigan is Book One in The League of Secret Heroes, and what a great debut to this exciting new series. This is a quick, fun read for middle grade readers that intersperses the chapters with graphic novel panels. Alas, because I read an advanced reader copy, the panels weren't included, but that just gives me even more reason to go out and buy the book when it releases on August 6!

Main character Josie O'Malley's father is away fighting against the Nazis in World War II, and Josie wants nothing more than to help support the war effort at home in America, like her beloved superheroes do. Or did, before they all disappeared.

When Josie learns about a puzzle-cracking tryout, she decides to put her talents to the test — literally! But she's shocked and angry when the man administering the test dumps hers in the garbage without even looking at it because she's a girl. Two other girls suffer the same fate, Akiko and Mae.

But then a mysterious woman asks if they'd like to be part of a secretive program that will utilize their skills for the war effort. Their first day on the job is full of twists and turns as a sinister shape-shifting baddie wreaks havoc and Jose, Akiko, and Mae suddenly find themselves endowed with super powers!

But becoming a superhero is harder than it looks and it takes more than a snazzy outfit to make a difference. The girls will have to learn to work together if they're going to thwart the evil Hisser and his henchman, save their city (and possibly the world!), and find the missing superheroes.

Not only is this a fast-paced, action-packed superhero tale that packs a punch, it was also inspired by real-life women from WWII! Infusing it with superheroes and tons of girl power makes it so much fun, but it's the heart of the story that really shines in the form of real women from history — some of the first "computers" who helped to build the first electronic computer. I hadn't heard about this group of women before, and I loved learning more about them in such a creative way. The end of the book includes an extensive author's note and recommended resources with more information on these real women which was so interesting.

I also appreciate that author Kate Hannigan doesn't shy away from tough issues like racism, sexism, and xenophobia that effect our trio, but she approaches these topics in a way that works for middle grade readers.

Overall, this was such a fun and inspiring read, and I can't wait to see where Hannigan takes us in Book Two!

I received free Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of this title from The Brain Lair Bookstore and NetGalley (where this review first appeared), in exchange for an honest review.

Find this and more great titles at this wonderful local bookshop that focuses on providing children and teens with diverse and inclusive books. #ShopLocal

Alisa Williams is the managing editor of She blogs at, tweets at @AWWritesStories, and bookstagrams at @AllyWritesStories.

Photo by Alisa Williams.

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