Life can be difficult at 10 years old. You’re not old enough for anyone to take you seriously, and you’re just beginning to combat the hormone jungle. It also doesn’t help if your high school-aged brother is the star quarterback of the local football team, your family is so busy they tend to rely on you for everything, and you have the mysterious power of blending into the background at school so that no one notices you. Indeed, life can be hard when you’re a nobody.
Newton Newman, or Newt, isn’t prepared for what happens next. His football-star older brother, Chris, is critically injured during the last play of the biggest game of the year and is unexpectedly struck into a coma. While the prognosis is positive, it’s also a bit mysterious: Chris’s vital signs are excellent; he’s just not waking up. Newt’s parents start spending all their time at the hospital, leave Newt at home, and forget to help him prepare for one of the most important holidays of the year --- Halloween. Cecil and JJ, Newt’s friends, try and take his mind off of Chris’s situation by challenging Newt to come up with a new and original costume.
With all of the pressures from school, home and the hospital, Newt waits until the last second and scrapes together a less-than-impressive costume. He takes some of Chris’s hand-me-downs, track pants and an old football jersey, throws them together along with a mask cut out from one of Chris’s old shirts, and attempts to become a superhero. Not until the middle of trick-or-treating does Newt realize who he is --- Captain Nobody! Slowly, Newt begins to transform into a hero who stands up for all the quiet kids and all other children who people tend to forget about.
While Newt intended for Captain Nobody to exist only one night, circumstances beyond his control force him to dress like Captain Nobody on a daily basis. The effect is magic. Not only do kids in Newt’s class pay him a little more attention and respect, Captain Nobody manages to save the day on more than one occasion. If Newt is able to defeat common-class criminals, assist old men and stop traffic with a single glance, then surely he must be able to do something to help Chris. Time is running out, though, and this might be too big of a job --- even for someone as powerful as Captain Nobody!
Captain Nobody is a hero anyone can root for. Dean Pitchford manages to take an everyday kid facing extraordinary circumstances and turn him into a likable, realistic hero who you could find running down the street to save a lost kitten. The situations that Newt finds himself in as Captain Nobody are downright hilarious yet believable. I can still recall some of my fourth-grade days with fondness, but I didn’t have nearly as much fun as Newt. Like any good superhero, Captain Nobody inspires kids of all ages not to be afraid to stand up for what is right and to kick some butt at the same time!