Stuntboy, in the Meantime
A Schneider Family Award Honor Book for Middle Grade
From Newbery Medal honoree and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds comes a hilarious, hopeful, and action-packed middle grade novel about the greatest young superhero you’ve never heard of, filled with illustrations by Raúl the Third!
Portico Reeves’s superpower is making sure all the other superheroes—like his parents and two best friends—stay super. And safe. Super safe. And he does this all in secret. No one in his civilian life knows he’s actually…Stuntboy!
But his regular Portico identity is pretty cool, too. He lives in the biggest house on the block, maybe in the whole city, which basically makes it a castle. His mom calls where they live an apartment building. But a building with fifty doors just in the hallways is definitely a castle. And behind those fifty doors live a bunch of different people who Stuntboy saves all the time. In fact, he’s the only reason the cat, New Name Every Day, has nine lives.
All this is swell except for Portico’s other secret, his not-so-super secret. His parents are fighting all the time. They’re trying to hide it by repeatedly telling Portico to go check on a neighbor “in the meantime.” But Portico knows “meantime” means his parents are heading into the Mean Time which means they’re about to get into it, and well, Portico’s superhero responsibility is to save them, too—as soon as he figures out how.
Only, all these secrets give Portico the worry wiggles, the frets, which his mom calls anxiety. Plus, like all superheroes, Portico has an arch-nemesis who is determined to prove that there is nothing super about Portico at all.
Praise for Stuntboy, in the Meantime
"Consistently funny and undeniably thoughtful."
— Kirkus Reviews, STARRED
Portico Reeves, secret alter ego Stuntboy, lives amid a lively, largely Black community at “the castle”—apartment building Skylight Gardens. As Portico, he navigates tense interactions with bully Herbert Singletary the Worst, the stress of his ever-fighting parents, and his own anxiety, or “frets.” As Stuntboy, meanwhile, his job is “keeping other superheroes safe, so they can save the world!” And he definitely has his hands full watching out for the castle’s various larger-than-life characters—rolling down the stairs for a neighbor who’s a “little wobbly,” taking a tumble in lieu of shoelace-obsessed Mr. Mister, and blowing salt-and-vinegar chip crumbs in his dad’s face to stop his parents’ fighting. Zola Brawner, best friend for 163 days, offers support, comparing Portico’s fighting parents to episodes of an in-universe television show, but his folks’ dismissals and descent into the “mean time” threaten to worsen the frets. From vibrant, comic book–style art with ample color by Elaine Bay to running gags and commercial breaks that balance serious moments, there’s plenty to enjoy about this engaging, high-energy collaboration by Raúl the Third (Strollercoaster) and Reynolds (Stamped).
— Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW*
BCCB – Portico Reeves lives in “a giant castle . . . made from the glassiest glass and the brickiest bricks on Earth.” Skylight Gardens apartment, towering over the city and boasting “one hundred windows,” “at least a million steps,” and plenty of interesting neighbors, is pretty much all the residence a kid could want. Unfortunately, one particular occupant, Herbert Singletary, is out to make life miserable for Portico and his best friend, Zola. Fired up by their common passion for Super Space Warriors (and by Portico’s longing for a role in a superhero universe), the friends envision Portico as Stuntboy, a sort of caped guardian who does the physical dirty work of intervention so that superheroes will be safe. Stuntboy’s skills are needed now more than ever to defuse his parents’ fights over personal property as they prepare for a separation that’s obvious to everyone but Portico. …. [T]he presentation is successfully buoyed by the interplay of Portico’s overly literal tendencies (e.g., he understands “in the meantime” to allude to his parents’ “mean time” skirmishes) and by and by Raúl the Third’s ebullient digital illustrations, which shine as a love letter to working class urban life.
*"This ingeniously crafted illustrated novel offers a multifaceted and heartfelt take on the classic superhero story. Portico Reeves is a kid with a “secret secret”—he likes to think of himself as Stuntboy, a homegrown and self-styled superhero whose power is “making sure all the other heroes stay super. And safe. Supersafe.” The selfless Stuntboy protects the quirky and racially diverse cast of characters in his apartment building, particularly his own family members and his best friend Zola. Instead of super strength or flight, Stuntboy performs a variety of odd “stunts” to help others, which also lets him burn off some energy. When he is Stuntboy, the young hero isn’t affected by his anxiety, or “the frets,” which are made worse for Portico by his parents’ constant bickering and his relentless bullying by “Herbert Singletary the Worst.” In ten episodic chapters, Reynolds employs fast-paced, realistic dialogue loaded with wordplay and humor. .... Raúl the Third’s cartoon illustrations are integral, active components of the story....the art makes Portico’s world feel real and vibrant. Bay’s color work is invaluable, oscillating between pulsating palettes and subdued screentones. Keeping to the superhero tradition, the creators end on a cliffhanger, leaving readers with a promise of more adventures to come."
— The Horn Book, starred review
*"In this funny, action-packed graphic novel, readers are introduced to Portico Reeves (aka Stuntboy), a Black fourth-grader and superhero. As Portico tries to dodge Herbert's bullying and cope with his parents' constant arguing, Stuntboy swoops in to save his neighbors and, hopefully, his parents' marriage.
This easily accessible and hilarious graphic novel is broken up into short episodes interrupted by commercial breaks with helpful tips on stunts. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jason Reynolds (Track series) creates a text that makes for a quick and easy read and the accompanying digital illustrations by Raúl the Third (Strollercoaster) match the tone perfectly. Stuntboy, in the Meantime is a perfect book for seven- to 12-year-olds."
— Shelf Awareness, starred review