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Review by Kirkus Indie

A physicist uses newly acquired superpowers to teach others moral lessons in Van Horn’s adventure novella.

Twenty-something Dr. Matt Meleg is hoping for an interruption-free day at his lab in a government scientific-research facility near Chicago. He’s nearly alone there, as most of his colleagues are away during a holiday break. He’s been experimenting with the possibility of increasing the speed of light by using a “Superconducting Magnet Energy Storage” system. But when he checks the SMES’ electrical connections, a surge of power jumps into his left index finger, which makes him unable to move or speak; finally, he collapses into unconsciousness. After he wakes, he keeps the mishap a secret from everyone, including his younger sister, Skyler. In the days that follow, however, he feels physically stronger and has a great desire to help those in need. He also notices that his finger sometimes glows green. One day, he approaches a couple of schoolboys who are bullying another. All three kids are fascinated by Matt—and his glowing finger—as he lectures them about respect and being “people of character,” which they take to heart. He starts calling himself “Captain Character,” and word quickly gets around about how he’s changing ordinary people’s lives. Van Horn’s morally inclined superhero is engagingly atypical. It initially appears that Matt is merely charming people with his words, but he’s actually using a superpower, which, among other things, compels people to pay attention to him. A few of Matt’s other powers don’t have a discernible purpose in this story, though, such as his power-radiating eyes, which he hides behind sunglasses, and his “extra physical strength.” However, this book is only the first of a planned series, so other powers may be on fuller display in future installments. The author’s straightforward but lucid prose style effectively propels readers through a relatively brief narrative of just over 50 pages in length. Still, Van Horn manages to effectively develop the stable relationship between Matt and his sister. Moreover, it’s revealed that the siblings’ father abandoned them years ago, providing even more weight to Matt’s power-driven impulse to show others how to better themselves—just as a devoted dad might do.

A subdued but engaging superhero origin story. 


Review By Westbow Press

Superhero Captain Character teaches morality lessons in new children’s book

Christine Van Horn’s new chapter book for children entitled “Captain Character™: The Adventure Begins” (published by WestBow Press), features a new superhero that comes on the scene at a time when his powers and abilities are needed for our world today.

“Captain Character” is Dr. Matthew Meleg, a scientist who receives power and extra perception to know when someone is in physical need. He has close relationships with his mom and sister, which sets the stage for his desire to help children in need. His extra physical strength and awareness of how to diffuse tense situations and turn them around comes with physical strength and a presence that captivates those involved. His trademark is a glowing left index finger where the power from his science experiment entered his body. His first encounter with three boys (Zachary, Geoffrey and George) demonstrates his desire to help others.

“Captain Character is a superhero in today’s world. It is a positive book for older children and teens and is the first in a chapter book series,” Van Horn explains, elaborating on the superhero saying, “He teaches lessons in character and makes real differences in the lives he touches. We all need to know how to be better persons of character.”

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