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Superman: Dawnbreaker

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THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES: DC ICONS!

Don't miss the coming-of-age story of the world's first super hero, SUPERMAN, from Newbery award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author MATT DE LA PEÑA.


"In his brilliant take on Superman, de la Peña shows us that there's a chance we'll all need to step up like Clark Kent--with or without a cape." --Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author of Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Long Way Down

"Everything we love about the Man of Steel: courageous, compassionate, and full of hope." --Gene Luen Yang, author of New Super-Man and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.

Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger, better than everyone around him. He knows drawing attention to himself could be dangerous, but lately it’s difficult to stay in the shadows. And he’s not the only one with something to hide. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and learns that people have been disappearing. With his best friend, Lana Lang, at his side, Clark is determined to discover what evil lies below the surface of their town. Before he can save the world, the future Man of Steel must save Smallville.

"A wonderful, bold interpretation of a DC icon that aspires to embrace all readers, new and old." --Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Continue with the rest of the DC Icons series! Read the books in any order you choose:
  *  Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
  *  Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
  *  Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
© Heather Waraksa
Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Medal–winning author of Last Stop on Market Street. He is also the author of the award-winning picture books Carmela Full of Wishes, Love, and A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, and seven critically acclaimed young adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. You can visit Matt at mattdelapena.com, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mattdelapena. View titles by Matt de la Peña
The storm came with little warning. A flash of lightning lit up Clark’s glasses as he huddled beneath the Java Depot awning with three former football teammates, all of them watching the sudden deluge pound the streets of downtown Smallville. The whipping rain had forced them elbow to elbow, and if Clark exercised a little amnesia, it almost felt like old times, back when he and the football squad were thick as thieves.
He doubted they would ever be close like that again. Not after he had quit on them.
Clark had always marveled at the power of thunderstorms, which put even his own mysterious strength into perspective. For others, the storm was nothing more than a nuisance. An older businessman, holding a briefcase over his head, sprinted toward a silver SUV, where he beeped open his door and dove inside. A drenched calico slunk beneath an industrial trash bin, looking for a dry place to wait out the downpour. 
“We can’t just stand here all day,” Paul shouted over the roar of the rain. “Come on, let’s make a run for the library.”
Kyle crossed his arms and rocked back on his heels. “Dude, this shit is, like, biblical. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I guess we could just do this here.” Tommy glanced back at the closed door of the coffee shop before turning to Clark. “Cool with you, big guy?”
Clark shrugged, still wondering what “this” was. And why no one else could be within earshot.
He had been more than a little surprised when Tommy Jones, a lumbering offensive lineman, approached him at school wanting to “hang out.” He’d been equally surprised when Tommy then showed up at the coffee shop with star running back Paul Molina and fullback Kyle Turner. After all, they’d wanted nothing to do with Clark for the better part of two years—since the day he abruptly left the freshman  team midseason.
Now here they all were, kicking it on Main Street again. Like nothing had ever happened.
But Clark knew there had to be a catch.
Tommy raised the brim of his baseball cap and cleared his throat. “I’m guessing you know our record this past season,” he began. “We sort of . . . underachieved.”
“That’s one way of putting it,” Kyle said, and Paul shook his head in disgust.
Clark should have known. This meetup was about football. Because when it came to Tommy, Kyle, and Paul, everything was about football.
“Anyway, us three have been talking.” Tommy slapped a big, meaty hand onto Clark’s shoulder. “We’ll all be seniors next year. And we wanna go out with a bang.” 
A massive clap of thunder echoed overhead, causing the three football players to flinch. Clark had never understood that reaction. How even the bravest people he knew could get so spooked by a little thunder. It was yet another example of how different he was from his peers. The guys tried to play off their jumpiness by checking their phones and studying their drinks.
That’s when Clark noticed something odd.
About thirty yards to his right, a wire-thin man in his early twenties was standing in the middle of the road, holding out his arms and staring up into the pouring rain. He had a tight buzz cut, and he was dressed head to toe in brown. Brown long-sleeved shirt. Brown pants. Brown combat boots. Clark had an uneasy feeling about the guy.
“Look at this freak,” Paul said, noticing him, too. “Who?” Tommy asked.
“Over there.” Paul pointed, but a slow big rig rumbled by, blocking their view. When it had passed, the man was gone.
Paul frowned, scratching the back of his shaved head and scanning the empty street. “He was standing out there a second ago. I swear.”
Clark searched for the man, too. Random strangers dressed in all brown didn’t just appear on the streets of Smallville, only to disappear seconds later. Who was he? Clark glanced back through the Java Depot window, where a dozen or so people he recognized were sitting at little round tables, drinking coffee and talking. Doing homework. Taking refuge from the storm.
He wondered if any of them had seen the guy.
As swiftly as the storm had begun, it now slowed to a quiet sprinkle. Steam rose off a drenched Main Street. Heavy drops fell from the trees. They streaked down the windshields of parked cars and zigzagged down street signs. The road was a sea of puddles.
“Let’s walk,” Tommy said, and they set off toward the public square, Clark still looking for the man dressed in brown.
The four of them had to veer around a series of orange cones blocking off yet another construction zone. A surging local economy had led to a serious transformation of downtown Smallville over the past several years. Gone were all the boarded-up storefronts and dilapidated buildings of Clark’s youth. In their place were trendy restaurants, real estate offices, a luxury condo development, and two shiny new bank branches. Multiple construction projects seemed to always be under way now, including the future headquarters for the powerful Mankins Corporation. But there was no work being done this afternoon. The storm had turned Main Street into a ghost town.
“Look, Clark,” Tommy said, attempting to pick up where he’d left off, “we all know how much better we would be with you in the backfield. I mean, there’s a reason we were undefeated in the games you played freshman year.”
“Yeah, before he bailed on us,” Paul scoffed.
Tommy shot Paul a dirty look. “What’d we talk about earlier, man? This is about moving forward. It’s about second chances.”
Clark shrank into himself.
Two years later and he still couldn’t stomach the idea that he’d let the team down. And then lied to them. He hadn’t quit football to concentrate on school, like he told everyone at the time. He quit because he could have scored on just about every play from scrimmage. And the urge to dominate—wrong as it seemed—grew stronger with each passing game. Until one day he ran over Miles Loften during a tackling drill, sending him to the hospital with fractured ribs. And Clark had only been going about 50 percent. After practice, he’d climbed the bleachers and sat alone, long into the night, contemplating what was no longer possible for him to overlook—just how drastically different he was. And how bad it would be if anyone found out.
  • NOMINEE | 2021
    Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2019
    International Literacy Association
"A wonderful, bold interpretation of a DC icon that aspires to embrace all readers, new and old." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“In his brilliant take on Superman, de la Peña shows us that there’s a chance we’ll all need to step up like Clark Kent—with or without a cape.”
Jason ReynoldsNew York Times bestselling author of Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Long Way Down

“Matt de la Peña’s Superman is the quintessential American alien. Despite being caught between two worlds, he’s everything we love about the Man of Steel: courageous, compassionate, and full of hope.”
Gene Luen Yang, author of New Super-Man and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

"As Clark learns the truth about his past and questions his identity, one thing remains true: Clark will always help those in need. This is a modern and relevant take on Clark Kent’s teenage years." —SLJ

"This combination of Superman and De la Peña will fly off shelves, as the award-winning author offers a glimpse into the Man of Steel's beginning as a teenage outsider." —Bookllist

Praise for DC Icons:

"Maas has a gift for crafting fierce female protagonists. . . . An epic shoutout to all the bad girls who know how to have fun."
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW (for Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas)

"You'll enjoy this book whether you're a fan of Wonder Woman comics, the Wonder Woman movie, Leigh Bardugo, or just YA lit in general." —Hypable (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"Feminism is the invisible jet powering this literary revamp of the Amazon princess."
The New York Times Book Review (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"Cinematic battles and a race against time keep the excitement high, but the focus on girls looking out for each other is what makes this tie-in shine."
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"All readers will definitely be delighted by Bardugo's cinematic delivery and long for more stories about this epic, ass-kicking heroine."
VOYA, STARRED REVIEW (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"A fast-paced story line, action-packed fight sequences, and hi-tech gadgetry expected from any Batman story make this a fun read with wide appeal."

SLJ (for Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu)
"The trickiest aspect of any Batman narrative is getting into Bruce Wayne's head, and [Lu] doesn't miss a beat."
Kirkus Reviews (for Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu)
 
"Masterful. . . . A great story for any Dark Knight fan."
—Den of Geek
(for Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu)

About

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES: DC ICONS!

Don't miss the coming-of-age story of the world's first super hero, SUPERMAN, from Newbery award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author MATT DE LA PEÑA.


"In his brilliant take on Superman, de la Peña shows us that there's a chance we'll all need to step up like Clark Kent--with or without a cape." --Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author of Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Long Way Down

"Everything we love about the Man of Steel: courageous, compassionate, and full of hope." --Gene Luen Yang, author of New Super-Man and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.

Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger, better than everyone around him. He knows drawing attention to himself could be dangerous, but lately it’s difficult to stay in the shadows. And he’s not the only one with something to hide. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and learns that people have been disappearing. With his best friend, Lana Lang, at his side, Clark is determined to discover what evil lies below the surface of their town. Before he can save the world, the future Man of Steel must save Smallville.

"A wonderful, bold interpretation of a DC icon that aspires to embrace all readers, new and old." --Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Continue with the rest of the DC Icons series! Read the books in any order you choose:
  *  Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
  *  Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
  *  Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Author

© Heather Waraksa
Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Medal–winning author of Last Stop on Market Street. He is also the author of the award-winning picture books Carmela Full of Wishes, Love, and A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, and seven critically acclaimed young adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. You can visit Matt at mattdelapena.com, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mattdelapena. View titles by Matt de la Peña

Excerpt

The storm came with little warning. A flash of lightning lit up Clark’s glasses as he huddled beneath the Java Depot awning with three former football teammates, all of them watching the sudden deluge pound the streets of downtown Smallville. The whipping rain had forced them elbow to elbow, and if Clark exercised a little amnesia, it almost felt like old times, back when he and the football squad were thick as thieves.
He doubted they would ever be close like that again. Not after he had quit on them.
Clark had always marveled at the power of thunderstorms, which put even his own mysterious strength into perspective. For others, the storm was nothing more than a nuisance. An older businessman, holding a briefcase over his head, sprinted toward a silver SUV, where he beeped open his door and dove inside. A drenched calico slunk beneath an industrial trash bin, looking for a dry place to wait out the downpour. 
“We can’t just stand here all day,” Paul shouted over the roar of the rain. “Come on, let’s make a run for the library.”
Kyle crossed his arms and rocked back on his heels. “Dude, this shit is, like, biblical. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I guess we could just do this here.” Tommy glanced back at the closed door of the coffee shop before turning to Clark. “Cool with you, big guy?”
Clark shrugged, still wondering what “this” was. And why no one else could be within earshot.
He had been more than a little surprised when Tommy Jones, a lumbering offensive lineman, approached him at school wanting to “hang out.” He’d been equally surprised when Tommy then showed up at the coffee shop with star running back Paul Molina and fullback Kyle Turner. After all, they’d wanted nothing to do with Clark for the better part of two years—since the day he abruptly left the freshman  team midseason.
Now here they all were, kicking it on Main Street again. Like nothing had ever happened.
But Clark knew there had to be a catch.
Tommy raised the brim of his baseball cap and cleared his throat. “I’m guessing you know our record this past season,” he began. “We sort of . . . underachieved.”
“That’s one way of putting it,” Kyle said, and Paul shook his head in disgust.
Clark should have known. This meetup was about football. Because when it came to Tommy, Kyle, and Paul, everything was about football.
“Anyway, us three have been talking.” Tommy slapped a big, meaty hand onto Clark’s shoulder. “We’ll all be seniors next year. And we wanna go out with a bang.” 
A massive clap of thunder echoed overhead, causing the three football players to flinch. Clark had never understood that reaction. How even the bravest people he knew could get so spooked by a little thunder. It was yet another example of how different he was from his peers. The guys tried to play off their jumpiness by checking their phones and studying their drinks.
That’s when Clark noticed something odd.
About thirty yards to his right, a wire-thin man in his early twenties was standing in the middle of the road, holding out his arms and staring up into the pouring rain. He had a tight buzz cut, and he was dressed head to toe in brown. Brown long-sleeved shirt. Brown pants. Brown combat boots. Clark had an uneasy feeling about the guy.
“Look at this freak,” Paul said, noticing him, too. “Who?” Tommy asked.
“Over there.” Paul pointed, but a slow big rig rumbled by, blocking their view. When it had passed, the man was gone.
Paul frowned, scratching the back of his shaved head and scanning the empty street. “He was standing out there a second ago. I swear.”
Clark searched for the man, too. Random strangers dressed in all brown didn’t just appear on the streets of Smallville, only to disappear seconds later. Who was he? Clark glanced back through the Java Depot window, where a dozen or so people he recognized were sitting at little round tables, drinking coffee and talking. Doing homework. Taking refuge from the storm.
He wondered if any of them had seen the guy.
As swiftly as the storm had begun, it now slowed to a quiet sprinkle. Steam rose off a drenched Main Street. Heavy drops fell from the trees. They streaked down the windshields of parked cars and zigzagged down street signs. The road was a sea of puddles.
“Let’s walk,” Tommy said, and they set off toward the public square, Clark still looking for the man dressed in brown.
The four of them had to veer around a series of orange cones blocking off yet another construction zone. A surging local economy had led to a serious transformation of downtown Smallville over the past several years. Gone were all the boarded-up storefronts and dilapidated buildings of Clark’s youth. In their place were trendy restaurants, real estate offices, a luxury condo development, and two shiny new bank branches. Multiple construction projects seemed to always be under way now, including the future headquarters for the powerful Mankins Corporation. But there was no work being done this afternoon. The storm had turned Main Street into a ghost town.
“Look, Clark,” Tommy said, attempting to pick up where he’d left off, “we all know how much better we would be with you in the backfield. I mean, there’s a reason we were undefeated in the games you played freshman year.”
“Yeah, before he bailed on us,” Paul scoffed.
Tommy shot Paul a dirty look. “What’d we talk about earlier, man? This is about moving forward. It’s about second chances.”
Clark shrank into himself.
Two years later and he still couldn’t stomach the idea that he’d let the team down. And then lied to them. He hadn’t quit football to concentrate on school, like he told everyone at the time. He quit because he could have scored on just about every play from scrimmage. And the urge to dominate—wrong as it seemed—grew stronger with each passing game. Until one day he ran over Miles Loften during a tackling drill, sending him to the hospital with fractured ribs. And Clark had only been going about 50 percent. After practice, he’d climbed the bleachers and sat alone, long into the night, contemplating what was no longer possible for him to overlook—just how drastically different he was. And how bad it would be if anyone found out.

Awards

  • NOMINEE | 2021
    Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2019
    International Literacy Association

Praise

"A wonderful, bold interpretation of a DC icon that aspires to embrace all readers, new and old." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“In his brilliant take on Superman, de la Peña shows us that there’s a chance we’ll all need to step up like Clark Kent—with or without a cape.”
Jason ReynoldsNew York Times bestselling author of Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Long Way Down

“Matt de la Peña’s Superman is the quintessential American alien. Despite being caught between two worlds, he’s everything we love about the Man of Steel: courageous, compassionate, and full of hope.”
Gene Luen Yang, author of New Super-Man and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

"As Clark learns the truth about his past and questions his identity, one thing remains true: Clark will always help those in need. This is a modern and relevant take on Clark Kent’s teenage years." —SLJ

"This combination of Superman and De la Peña will fly off shelves, as the award-winning author offers a glimpse into the Man of Steel's beginning as a teenage outsider." —Bookllist

Praise for DC Icons:

"Maas has a gift for crafting fierce female protagonists. . . . An epic shoutout to all the bad girls who know how to have fun."
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW (for Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas)

"You'll enjoy this book whether you're a fan of Wonder Woman comics, the Wonder Woman movie, Leigh Bardugo, or just YA lit in general." —Hypable (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"Feminism is the invisible jet powering this literary revamp of the Amazon princess."
The New York Times Book Review (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"Cinematic battles and a race against time keep the excitement high, but the focus on girls looking out for each other is what makes this tie-in shine."
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"All readers will definitely be delighted by Bardugo's cinematic delivery and long for more stories about this epic, ass-kicking heroine."
VOYA, STARRED REVIEW (for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo)

"A fast-paced story line, action-packed fight sequences, and hi-tech gadgetry expected from any Batman story make this a fun read with wide appeal."

SLJ (for Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu)
"The trickiest aspect of any Batman narrative is getting into Bruce Wayne's head, and [Lu] doesn't miss a beat."
Kirkus Reviews (for Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu)
 
"Masterful. . . . A great story for any Dark Knight fan."
—Den of Geek
(for Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu)

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