J.S. Puller Biography:
Activities & Resources:
Create a safe space for patrons. Have students make suggestions about the space to give them ownership of the sanctuary that is the library: https://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/at-school/build-safe-environment/index.html
Challenge students with a list of ways to be kind to others. Brainstorm the list during a book club or library advisory meeting. Have students recall ways that Captain Superlative and Janey spread kindness to others.
Join the Great Kindness Challenge:
Learn about the sport of soccer:
Facts about soccer:
Have students bring in soccer balls from home. Set up a course in the library and have students pass the ball to one another, stopping at certain points. Ideas for the stopping points might be non-fiction section near the sports books, fiction section near read-alikes for Captain Superlative, or 600s books about diseases and health. Have students figure out why the stops are chosen. Then have students make their own course with selected stopping points that connect to the story.
Fun facts about superheroes:
Take these superhero STEM challenges! After the librarian or teacher downloads the challenge cards, have fun exploring these superhero possibilities through STEM activities:
Make friendship bracelets to give out to others: https://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/friendship/mbracelets.htm
Have students write positive notes to leave for others, using the printables on the website:
Have students use items in your makerspace station to design a superhero costume.
Using items in the makerspaces station, create posters and decorations to declare your library a Safe Space. Ideas for slogans include, but are not limited to: No Place for H8; Safe Space; No Bullying Allowed; Bully-Free Zone.
Have students make friendship flowers to turn the negative Valentine’s flower scene in the book into something positive. Using tissue paper, pipe cleaners, popsicle stick colored green, and glue. Follow the directions in the Creative Crafts with Flowers video (2:56):
Make your own “Spinning Superhero”. https://www.highlightskids.com/activities/crafts/spinning-superheroes
What would you do if you saw a bully picking on another student? How can you be an upstander if you didn’t want to intervene?
If you were to take on the role of a superhero, what name would you choose? Why?
Why do you think Captain Superlative chose the letter C to place on her cape?
Janey and her father have established routines each night. What is a routine you have with your family that has become special to you? What makes it so important?
In the story, Janey describes Dagmar’s “blue shoes” trend. What is a trend that is popular at your school that is similar to this?
How did you feel when Janey first stands up to Dagmar after Dagmar hits Paige?
How does the author hint at Dagmar’s big secret in the beginning of the story? Is it a noticeable hint or would you advise the author to be more forthcoming? Why?
How does Janey change from the beginning of the story until the end? Explain.
With which character would you choose to be friends? Why?
What is Janey’s greatest fear? Explain.
Why do you think Captain Superlative and Janey make such great friends for one another?
What would you do to spread kindness at your school? Why did you choose this activity?
What would you do to help your friends get through a difficult time in life? How would you try to ease their discomfort?
Do you think Dagmar’s character would change if the author wrote a sequel? Explain.
Who do you think is the true hero(ine) of the story? Explain.
Were there parts of the book you thought were unique, out of place, or thought provoking? Share why you selected this part of the book.
What songs did the events in this story make you think about? Create a playlist for the book.
What is this book’s message? Explain your reasons for selecting this message.
How do the different characters in the story handle teasing? Which way is similar to how you handle teasing?
If you were making a movie from this book, whom would you cast? Explain.
Book Talk Teasers:
Read the Captain Superlative reader’s theatre, found on the TBA resources webpage.
Dressed like a superhero. go incognito around your library, spreading words of kindness and good deeds, such as holding doors open. After doing the good deeds, shout, “Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!”
Dealing with Bullies
Amato, Mary. News from me, Lucy Mcgee. Lucy avoids her school’s new Uke Club to help neighbor Scarlet create a Poetry Club, although Scarlet keeps telling her to do things that seem wrong. (NoveList K-8)
Foster, Stewart. All the things that could go wrong. Dan and his friends, Sophie and the Georges, are bullies who target obsessive-compulsive Alex, but when Dan is in trouble, Alex is the one who conquers his fears to show up. (NoveList K-8)
Harkrader, Lisa. Cool Beans: the further adventures of Beanboy. This sequel to The Adventures of Beanboy combines comic illustrations, a small-town bully facing off against a budding artist, and a rousing, decisive game of dodgeball. (NoveList K-8)
Kootstra, Kara. Jay versus the saxophone of doom. Jay loves playing hockey but sixth grade comes with other challenges, such as a bully named Mick Bartlet and learning to play the saxophone. (NoveList K-8)
McKay, Hilary. Binny in secret. While getting bullied at school, twelve-year-old Binny investigates the disappearance of her brother’s chicken and tries to save an endangered lynx. (NoveList K-8)
Salisbury, Graham. Calvin Coconut: trouble magnet. Nine-year-old Calvin catches the attention of the school bully on the day before he starts fourth grade, while at home, the unfriendly, fifteen-year-old daughter of his mother’s best friend has taken over his room. (NoveList K-8)
Sonnenblick, Jordan. The secret sheriff of sixth grade. Maverick Falconer wishes that he could deal with school bullies and his mother’s drinking problem and abusive boyfriends, but he starts to realize that others kids in his class have problems too and things might get better if they just survive sixth grade. (NoveList K-8)
Being a Friend
Anderson, John David. Ms. Bixby’s last day. Loving their gifted teacher, who makes them feel like the indignity of school is somehow worthwhile, three boys are dismayed when the teacher falls ill and leaves for the rest of the school year, a situation that compels them to share their stories while cutting class and journeying across town together on a fateful day. (NoveList K-8)
Gephart, Donna. In your shoes. An anxious boy devoted to his family’s bowling center in spite of his phobias and a girl whose dreams of happily-ever-after are challenged by her residence above her uncle’s funeral home use their imaginations to help each other find new beginnings. (NoveList K-8)
Magoon, Kekla. The season of Styx Malone. Caleb Franklin and his younger brother, Bobby Gene, spend an extraordinary summer their new, older neighbor, Styx Malone, a foster boy from the city. (NoveList K-8)
Puller, J.S. Captain Superlative. Disney Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2018.
Puller, J. S. (author).
July 2018. 256p. Disney/Hyperion, hardcover, $16.99 (9781368004275); Disney/Hyperion, e-book, $16.99 (9781368026109). Grades 5-7.
REVIEW. First published May 29, 2018 (Booklist Online).
In this two-hanky debut, seventh-graders get schooled in the value of kindness when a new student arrives dressed in cape, mask, and purple wig, sailing down the halls and grandly declaring it her mission to “make all troubles disappear!” Emotionally fragile, having lost her mother to cancer three years before, mousey Janey finds herself inexorably swept up in the Captain’s wake, designated a “sidekick,” and with increasing self-confidence, joining in the campaign—whether it involves simple acts like holding doors open for others and passing out calming mints before big tests, or escorting quiet classmate Paige between classes to shield her from the savage bullying of A-lister Dagmar. Though Janey only gradually discovers who the Captain is and how she finds the courage to engage in such “freaky” behavior, Puller gives readers strong hints from the outset by opening with a memorial ceremony and framing Janey’s narrative as a recollection. The author, like many first novelists, also positively packs in subplots. A worthy message delivered with heart, humor, and hardly any preaching. — John Peters
Used with the permission of Booklist https://www.booklistonline.com/
School Library Journal (May 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-Seventh-grader Janey likes being invisible: if you can’t be seen, you can’t be a target. Classmate Paige is in queen bee Dagmar’s bullying crosshairs-at least, until the day Captain Superlative appears to show everyone a better way: “Be nice! Help others! Stand up!” Janey has to wonder if the girl with the mask and the blue hair is crazy. With a little sleuthing, Janey figures out the Captain’s secret identity and is reluctantly convinced to accept the role of sidekick. Little does she know that she herself will end up being Captain Superlative’s biggest accomplishment. Puller’s debut novel opens with a prologue taking place at a memorial service, so it’s no spoiler to reveal that the Captain’s days are numbered, and her determination to go out leaving a legacy of small acts of kindness is more than just a way to avoid being forgotten. Although Janey’s voice frequently wobbles, sounding more like an adult than a middle-schooler, and there is no way a student would be allowed to wear a cape and mask to a real-life middle school, the story is at its best when the Captain is standing up against meanness and pointing out that “different is good.” -VERDICT Buy where realistic fiction for tweens is in demand, especially where students are looking for Wonder readalikesáwith a similar “Choose Kind” message.-Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.