Excerpt from “Tim and the Caped Avenger”

My new contemporary middle-grade novel, Tim and the Caped Avenger, tells how one family copes with the absence of Dad. The book  can be described as “Marvel Comics meets Andrew Clements.” Tim Spencer, an imaginative ten-year-old boy, tells superhero stories to his little brother. The valiant and always victorious Caped Avenger looks a lot like their dad, Captain Spencer, MIA in Afghanistan.


By Cecily Nabors


            Boris the Bomber chuckled over his evil design to destroy Washington, D.C. Little did he know that the Caped Avenger would soon foil his plan to blow up…

“Tim Spencer!”

Tim yanked himself back from the bomber’s lair to his fifth-grade classroom.

His teacher stood beside him with arms folded. He frowned. “Tim, you were daydreaming again. I asked about your favorite fictional character. Do you have one?”

“The Caped Avenger,” Tim blurted out. He clamped his hand over his mouth, as if he could stuff the words back in. His superhero was too private to talk about at school.

“The Caped Avenger?” Mr. Callen raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Tell us about him.”

Tim glanced around. Everyone stared at him, waiting. Someone tap-tapped a pencil as if counting seconds. Matt’s round face wore his “I know something you don’t know” grin. The heck with Matt.

Tim’s words tumbled out. “The Caped Avenger fights evil. Like the time Boris the Bomber threatened to blow up the Capitol with his humongous hidden laser gun.”

“Sounds serious,” his teacher said.  “What did the Caped Avenger do?”

“He hovered in his Cape of Flight and attached a special mirror to the Capitol dome. The mirror reflected the laser back at the bad guy,” Tim said. “He sizzled away in smoke.”

Matt called, “I’d sure like to see that book.”

“Book?”  Tim stared at Matt.

Matt’s eyes gleamed as if he’d caught a mouse in a trap.

“I think everyone would like to see it,” Mr. Callen said. “Bring it in tomorrow, Tim.”

Oh, no. A shiver went down Tim’s back. He knew why Matt had grinned.

Matt Azarian’s family lived three doors up from Tim’s house on Avery Street. The boys were friends until Matt mutated into the bossiest kid in Rockville, Maryland. He always insisted on being the hero, like Prospero the magician, while Tim had to be the lowly assistant.

Tim didn’t hang with Matt anymore. But Matt knew there was no book. The Caped Avenger was a character in the stories Tim told his little brother Mikey at bedtime.

Rats and double rats. Tim was too embarrassed to tell Mr. Callen the truth. The class would laugh. Matt would tell all of King Street Elementary School about Tim the loser.

Why did Brandon have to go to the dentist today?  Good old Birdbrain, his best friend, would have poked Tim and kept him from getting in trouble.

“Boys and their superheroes,” said Sophia. “So predictable.” She nudged her sister, Arianna. Or Arianna nudged Sophia. Tim often couldn’t tell the twins apart. He turned away, as they both shook with giggles. The twins always played to an audience, if only to each other.

From across the room, Ella gave Tim an encouraging smile. Maybe she wanted to see his book. Ella was okay.

After school, Tim made his favorite peanut butter and banana sandwich and thought about his problem. How could he show up at school tomorrow with a book that didn’t exist?

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