‘The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt’ by Shawn Peters is a thoughtful fantasy middle grade novel

In his second book in the Logan Foster series, “The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt,” author Shawn Peters asks readers to consider the power of actual strength, as in super strength, versus the power of the mind. The main character, Logan Foster, starts his narrative by explaining that while he is “a twelve-year-old orphan living on the Westside of Lost Angeles,” he’s halfway through high school because he has an eidetic memory. He tells us, “I’ve retained every word, sound, and image that I’ve seen or heard since I was three.” He also makes it clear that he is writing this narrative for his younger brother, whom he is hoping to find and with whom he hopes to be reunited.

The fact that he “only” remembers events from the age of three is important because that’s when he was abandoned at the airport by his mother. Since that time he’s been in various foster placements, until in the first book, “The Unforgettable Logan Foster,” he is taken into a foster home by Gil and Margie. In the first book, he finds out that they are superheroes, but it’s Logan himself, using his genius skills, who manages to help defeat a super villain.

In this book, he is still searching for his little brother. He is also navigating a new school and a new friendship with a girl who turns out to have superpowers. The novel is filled with lots of superheroes as well as plenty of action and betrayals, but like the first book in the series, it’s also surprisingly thoughtful. During a school field trip, a rockfall causes the school bus to balance precariously over the side of a cliff. When those in charge start evacuating the bus, Logan realizes that the outcome will not be good. He uses his scientific abilities to show his heroic side as he saves those in the bus from certain death.

And even when there are superheroes fighting to foil foes, Logan may not have the superpowers, but he has his super brain, and that’s often enough to make up the difference and determine the outcome whereby the good guys win. One of the things I really like is that Logan is on the autism spectrum and is open about his ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and how it makes it difficult for him to understand his emotions. He also takes things very literally, and he is often stuck on the facts. Facts are important to Logan. You can rely on facts. It’s understandable.

Trust often comes up in the story, and it’s something kids will want to discuss. When should you trust people, and are they worthy of being trusted? How do you know? That’s a huge issue in our reality as children must determine which adults in their lives they should be able to trust. Having a frank discussion with a class of kids is a great way for them to hear about other opinions and why trusting people can be important, but it can also lead, as in this story, to negative outcomes. Were there signs that Logan shouldn’t have trusted the person he did? (Careful readers will spot that clever bit of foreshadowing.)

And yet another really important topic is that of adoption and family. By the end of the story, Logan’s view of his family has changed radically from his thoughts in the first novel and even at the start of this one. How do you know who your family is? Is it biology? Is it those who love you and support you? Logan makes an important decision about who his family really is. Again, I can foresee many fabulous classroom discussions about why Logan made this decision. Will students think it’s the right decision or wrong one? What will they use to support their position? Hopefully, reading this series will make all children think about foster care and adoption as something that can be wonderful and create new families.

The series has something for every kind of reader. There’s just a touch of beginning romantic feelings on Logan’s part, and Peters manages to include an LGBTQ connection that is very subtle, but might just get this book banned in states that only allow for one way of thinking and one lifestyle. It’s really well done, and it’s perfect for kids at the middle grade age where any romantic thoughts are still pretty innocent and elementary.

There’s a lot of action, really—a lot. There’s also plenty of humor from Gil’s punny jokes to Logan’s wry narration. All in all, it’s a book that will appeal to kids but that also works as a read aloud, with the teacher enabling the listeners to delve deeply into some of the weightier topics that Peters presents, topics that might go over the heads of kids reading the books on their own. Or maybe this could be a book read by a group of kids with important questions presented by the teacher that the kids will have to discuss and respond to on their own. However it’s used, this series is definitely one that should be on classroom shelves and in libraries.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by HARPER, the publisher, for review purposes.