I’m a huge fan of superheroes: comics, movies, the occasional novel that captures everything I love about the genre. Cape by Kate Hannigan, however, combines superheroes with the history of women who aided the army during World War II by using their brains. How cool is that?
Josie does whatever she can to help her Mam after her father leaves to fight the Nazis, but she wishes she could do more. Since she can’t fight bad guys with superpowers like her favorite caped heroes, she decides to use her math skills to crack secret codes for the government instead. After she’s rejected from a testing tryout due to being a girl, Josie finds herself swept away into a much bigger secret: she and two other girls transform into superheroes. When they overhear suspicious plans that may be linked to the Nazis, the girls are determined to stop the saboteurs and save the day—and the war.
Cape does an excellent job blending fun and excitement with the serious tones of WWII and other problems people faced during this particular time period. It shows the hardships family had during the war effort, especially as fathers and brothers were away fighting, but it also takes a stab at addressing racism, sexism, and bullying. It doesn’t shy away from addressing these issues just because it’s a middle grade book.
The characters, however, are what truly captured me. Josie is a firecracker and I love her determination and sensitivity to other people. She goes through a lot in this book, and she comes out stronger. Akiko and Mae are a blast as well, and I love how this book focuses heavily on showing how smart all the ladies in this story are. The author notes in the back that many of the characters were inspired by real life women at the time who helped with the war effort by utilizing their knowledge of math and science, which is brilliant.
Cape would have fascinated me just with the wonderful and diverse cast of characters and the fun plot line of young girls turning superhero to uncover a Nazi plan. But Cape goes above and beyond that by including comic book panels instead of the typical written narrative whenever the girls transform into superheroes. And it’s flipping awesome.
Perfect for fans of Hidden Figures, Wonder Woman, and Agent Carter, Cape is a fantastic and powerful middle grade book. Anybody who loves middle grade, superheroes, and girl power are sure to love this book as well. I can’t wait for the sequel!