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Heck Superhero [Hardcover]

Martine Leavitt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 9.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

May 25 2004

  • Notable Children's Books (American Library Association)
  • Best Books for Young Adults (American Library Association)
  • 2005 Alberta Children's Book of the Year
  • 2004 Editor's Choice, Kirkus Reviews (United States)
  • 2004 California Top 10 Library Association
  • 2004 Pennsylvania Top 10 Library Association
  • Governor General's Literary Award 2004, finalist


Thirteen-year-old Heck is a pretty normal kid with some artistic talent and a hyperactive imagination. Life with his mother has been hand-to-mouth but not catastrophic. He has a modest, passive support system: his best friend and some kindly acquaintances.


When he and his mother are evicted, she assumes he's staying with his friend. Heck, confident of his own ability to get by and wanting to protect his mother from criticism, decides not to ask for help. For the next few days he brushes up against a harsher reality than he anticipated. He's hungry, broke, homeless and plagued by a toothache.


Heck has a series of encounters involving varying degrees of callousness, harshness, and risk. He sustains himself (and the reader) with his wit, imagination and optimism. As Heck faces the challenges of growing up on the streets - including drugs, pain, hunger, theft and homelessness - he must come to terms with his choices, his perceptions of himself, and his perceptions of others.


Heck Superhero is award - winning author Martine Leavitt's most recent foray into the world of today's urban teenager. Heck is as real as Martine's other troubled teenager, Tom Finder (Red Deer Press, 2003). And, like Tom Finder, Heck must find the inner strength to face the truth.



Product Details


Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–While Heck, a talented artist and cartoonist, is spending the evening with his best friend, his single mom goes into "hypertime," a place where she never has to assume adult responsibilities. Once again, the 13-year-old assumes his role as superhero. Unfortunately, the causes of his mother's breakdown are beyond his control; she's lost her waitress job and they've been evicted from their apartment. He searches for her for three days, trying to do the Good Deeds that he hopes will allow him to find her. He struggles with a severe toothache, sleeps in a car, and tries to earn money for food. The climax comes after Heck befriends 18-year-old Marion Ewald, who is determined to release the "pocket creatures" that he thinks live in his jacket to their own planet. After the older boy jumps to his death, Heck finds his mother in the hospital and reminds her that he is not a superhero but a boy who also needs help. The help begins to come. Heck is a likable, resourceful character, trying to do the right thing in almost untenable situations. Secondary characters are also well developed. Most of the adults are supportive, willing to help, though largely uninformed. Most notable is the depiction of Heck's art teacher, who recognizes the boy's talent as well as his problems and provides subtle, sympathetic support. Credible characters are placed in recognizable situations to create a poignant, fast-paced, and believable look at homelessness, mental illness, and the way one boy copes with their impact.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-9. When life stops making sense, 13-year-old Heck retreats into his drawings. A talented artist, he creates powerful superheroes that save the world with one good deed--just like Heck wants to be able to do. However, when his mother, who is prone to depression, disappears, leaving him homeless, penniless, and with an intense toothache, Heck must face the world in a way he never has before--truthfully. Strong supporting characters such as best friend Spence and Marion, an older, mentally ill teenage boy whom Heck befriends, add depth to this engrossing, evocative novel that spans and intimately details Heck's struggle to survive on the streets in a world that isn't as clearly defined as that of his beloved superheroes. Some situations (Heck's experience with a street drug, for example, and Marion's suicide) are more appropriate for mature readers, and the ending feels somewhat rushed. But Heck is a well-drawn, sympathetic protagonist who learns that compassion is a superpower, and that asking for help can be the most heroic act of all. Shelle Rosenfeld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Homeless, Batman! Dec 15 2006
Format:Hardcover
When folks try to help people down and out, they often bring a whole lot of pity to feast upon. Sometimes we just need the bread. HECK, SUPERHERO is one of those fabulous books, like FLY AWAY HOME, the picture book by Eve Bunting, that gets it right. Heck, like many folks, wants to contribute. Homeless folks are usually not asked, nor expected to be contributing members of society. This lack of expectation usually forces homeless people into hiding and denying an essential fact of daily life. Pity never tastes good and generally leads to indigestion, the indigestion of illness, physical and mental, which induces further denial, more problems, ... until our bones are sucked dry. Feast on this fabulous book, my personal book of the year and one of my all time favorites! Bon appetit!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heck Superhero May 20 2008
By Pauline
Format:Hardcover
There is nothing worse then a painful tooth, it changes your outlook and perception in life if you are in constant pain. Heck is in such a situation, but not only does he has holes in his teeth, but is also without shelter, food or family. His mother is unable to cope due to depressive illness and Heck has to fend for himself. Drawing superheroes is a method that Heck uses to escape from his life, but he soon finds out he has to face reality. Heck lives on the street and faces drug use, stealing, breaking and entering an art studio and has contact with numerous adults who just do not see the whole picture and therefore do not help him.

It is a great book and I found it sad, but Heck is one of those rare kids who are able to eventually figure things out.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Aug. 28 2007
Format:Hardcover
Heck's mom is lost. She disappeared after they were locked out of their apartment because she couldn't pay the rent. Heck's used to taking care of himself, but what will happen to his small, fragile mother? Who will take care of her?

Heck has to find her before she ends up in another dimension, one where she doesn't exist at all. The problem is, he's still in his flat stage. It's how all superheroes start out, but Heck is running short on time, so he has to perform the Good Deed that will get he and his mother topworld.

The Good Deed is hard to do when you've been sleeping in a car, you have no money, and your tooth aches so badly that you can't breathe without feeling stabs of pain. But, Heck is determined to find a way to save his mom -- if he didn't, what kind of superhero would he be?

Heck is a fabulous character, one who is rich in imagination and heart!

Reviewed by: Julie M. Prince
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5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: HECK, SUPERHERO June 21 2004
Format:Hardcover
"Heck wasn't a superhero, or if he was, he was definitely in his flat stage, his no-curves-no-life-dead-on-the-page-stage. Of course, all superheros started off that way. It said so in his How to Draw Superheros book."

"Heck Superhero, lost and abandoned in the world of mortals, without his supersuit and the tokens of his strength...
"Heck sat up straight and looked around the mall. No one was looking at him, but he could almost hear Mr. Bandras's voice: 'Daydreaming again, Heck? There's a time and a place for that, and this isn't it.'
"Heck had to admit that now was not a good time to be daydreaming. Not when they'd lost their apartment and when his portfolio with all his semester artwork was locked in it and when bacteria were mining their way down through his molars and his jawbone. He had to stay in this microverse and take care of his mom. Flat or not, he had to get to his mom soon. He had to get her out of hypertime, keep her from thinking crazy stuff like that he was better off without her or something. He had to talk to her before she floated like a dry leaf right out of this dimension.
"He had to think, make a plan, a good plan, a smart plan--a superplan...
"There was always the Good Deed.
"Of course, there was that bad deed still in his pocket to worry about.
"A delicious smell from the mall's food court drifted right up his nostrils. He was hungry.
"He'd been hungry before, but not this hungry. He felt turned inside out, like his stomach was on the outside of him and his human face on the inside. Being this hungry put his stomach in charge of his brain and his hands and his feet. If you weren't a superhero, being this hungry could make you spend the money you stole from your best friend...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: HECK, SUPERHERO June 20 2004
By Richie Partington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Heck wasn't a superhero, or if he was, he was definitely in his flat stage, his no-curves-no-life-dead-on-the-page-stage. Of course, all superheros started off that way. It said so in his How to Draw Superheros book."

"Heck Superhero, lost and abandoned in the world of mortals, without his supersuit and the tokens of his strength...
"Heck sat up straight and looked around the mall. No one was looking at him, but he could almost hear Mr. Bandras's voice: 'Daydreaming again, Heck? There's a time and a place for that, and this isn't it.'
"Heck had to admit that now was not a good time to be daydreaming. Not when they'd lost their apartment and when his portfolio with all his semester artwork was locked in it and when bacteria were mining their way down through his molars and his jawbone. He had to stay in this microverse and take care of his mom. Flat or not, he had to get to his mom soon. He had to get her out of hypertime, keep her from thinking crazy stuff like that he was better off without her or something. He had to talk to her before she floated like a dry leaf right out of this dimension.
"He had to think, make a plan, a good plan, a smart plan--a superplan...
"There was always the Good Deed.
"Of course, there was that bad deed still in his pocket to worry about.
"A delicious smell from the mall's food court drifted right up his nostrils. He was hungry.
"He'd been hungry before, but not this hungry. He felt turned inside out, like his stomach was on the outside of him and his human face on the inside. Being this hungry put his stomach in charge of his brain and his hands and his feet. If you weren't a superhero, being this hungry could make you spend the money you stole from your best friend..."

Despite all of that boundless affection that I feel for really great new books, it is exceedingly rare for me to be wishing for another couple of hundred pages. This is one of those uncommon instances. Having charged at breakneck speed through the first half of this book's 144 pages, I was already mourning how little remained with a measure of despair comparable to that with which I greet the longest day of the year--knowing that it's all downhill from there.

"It was an unsettling feeling, like he'd just lost track of the spin of the earth. This was how his mom felt all the time, he thought. It must be, for her, like trying to jump onto a spinning merry-go-round."

But I can also understand Martine Leavitt's need to let go after these 144 power-packed pages. I can't remember a previous instance where I found myself musing about a young character's mind moving at a velocity reminiscent of Neil Cassidy's mouth. HECK SUPERHERO lays bare ninety-six critical hours in the life of this thirteen-year-old all-too-human kid who has channeled a lifetime of chronic neglect by his severely depressed mother into becoming a caregiver and doer of Good Deeds as well as becoming a truly extraordinary artist. In the words of his art teacher Mr. Bandras,

" 'I'm going to tell you something, Heck. I've been teaching for twenty-four years. For twenty-four years I've been telling myself that my work is meaningful, that I've been enriching the lives of children by introducing them to the soul-expanding visual arts. Maybe I've done that. But some of the kids I taught my first year are turning thirty-seven this year. They are clerks and salesmen and mechanics and doctors. None of them go to art galleries, never mind pick up a paintbrush. Sometimes they dazzle their kids and draw a really good horse. Are you hearing me, Heck? If I had a nickel for every time a student came back and said, "Thanks for enriching my life with the visual arts," I'd have a whole fifteen cents. I've spent fifty-one thousand eight hundred and forty hours of my diabetic and therefore shortened lifespan babysitting art students.'
"He pulled up and parked in front of Heck's ex-apartment building. He sighed. 'Then you came along, Heck. Once in a lifetime a student like you. Someone with art eyes. It was worth twenty-four years to get you. Now, I know you, and I know something's going on.' "

But, no, Heck's fears of what could happen to his mom because of her failures, and where she and Heck could each end up, stops him from revealing to his Mr. Bandras or to his best friend Spence how irrevocably bad things have gotten this time. He's sure he's got to go it alone, and he tenaciously grasps that thin thread--his belief that "if you did a true Good Deed, you could change the microverse, maybe change it to a better one."

But how much worse can he let it get before he opens his mouth or before he hits a wall?

"If you were flat you could slide under locked doors at night and get stuff. Stuff you needed, like art supplies. When you were someone who urinated in public places it was the next logical step, wasn't it? If you were a person who stole money from your best friends and did drugs and went to prison, wasn't the next step to take stuff from people you didn't even know? If you urinated in people's driveway, that sealed it.
"Heck's teeth had rhythm: pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain...
"He punched his jaw."

As the cover illustration says, "KA-POW!"

Stop listening to what I'm saying, drop everything, and go read this book.
(...)
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Aug. 13 2007
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Heck's mom is lost. She disappeared after they were locked out of their apartment because she couldn't pay the rent. Heck's used to taking care of himself, but what will happen to his small, fragile mother? Who will take care of her?

Heck has to find her before she ends up in another dimension, one where she doesn't exist at all. The problem is, he's still in his flat stage. It's how all superheroes start out, but Heck is running short on time, so he has to perform the Good Deed that will get he and his mother topworld.

The Good Deed is hard to do when you've been sleeping in a car, you have no money, and your tooth aches so badly that you can't breathe without feeling stabs of pain. But, Heck is determined to find a way to save his mom -- if he didn't, what kind of superhero would he be?

Heck is a fabulous character, one who is rich in imagination and heart!

Reviewed by: Julie M. Prince
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heck, Superhero Nov. 27 2005
By - - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Heck, Superhero, a book by Martine Leavitt, is about a kid named Heck who believes he is a superhero as he is told so by some people. He meets many interesting characters throughout the book as he searches for his mom over a period of three days, because when depressed, she goes through something called hyper time that makes time go by very fast for her. He believes that to find his mom and make everything alright, he must perform a "good deed" as a superhero. He goes to many places searching for his mom and looking for "good deeds" to perform.

Heck believes he is a superhero because for one, his mom used to call him a "superkid" and because a counselor he went to see once called him a "superkid" too when talking about his art abilities. As he is searches for his mom that is currently suffering from hyper time, he meets an 18-year-old with mental problems called Marion. Marion believes he has aliens in his pocket and must release them. Throughout the story when Heck tries to do "good deeds" to make up for bad things he has done, he ends up doing something bad instead. For example, in the beginning, he is tricked into buying a drug, and eventually takes it. Throughout most of the story he can't think clearly because he is high. He tries to find ways to make money to call his mom and his only shelter is the car of someone who lives in apartment, because he and his mom have been evicted. Eventually his art teacher starts to worry about him not coming to school for a while, but he just lies about the situation.

What will happen to Heck, his mom, and his friend Marion? What will happen when Marion releases the aliens? Will Heck ever be reunited with his mom? The only way to find out is to read the book! I liked this book because of the interesting characters, and how fast paced it was. I also liked the originality. This book left me wondering what happened to Heck and his mom after it ended, and if there really is such thing as hyper time. I would recommend reading this book.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heck Superhero Dec 14 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Heck and his mom get icked out of there apartment and Heck say's his mom goes into hyperspeed. So Heck went to stay with his best friend Spence, where Heck doesn't have any money, so he steals twenty dollars from Spence. Heck goes to the malll and this lady comes up to him and asks if he wants to buy a pill and she said it will make him strong and he takes out the twenty dollarsand lays it on the besid him. Heck see's a security guard and the lady takes the money and starts running out of the mall. So Heck is trying to find a job to pay back Spence the money he stole and have money to live on while trying to find his mom. Heck went out that night to find a place to stay and he found a car that was his neighbors car. The next morning he was walking and he ran into this lady that he found out it was his mom.
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