With two sons running around my house, we get a great deal of pretend play in. My older boy does a lot of Iron Man, while my younger seems very attached to Spider-Man as of late. When Downtown Bookworks’ latest book The Big Book of Batman arrived, it immediately disappeared from my office to be traded back and forth between both of their rooms over the next few weeks, and suddenly both boys were arguing over who got to wear the Batman Halloween costume in our playroom. I actually had to paw through two bookshelves to find and dig it out for this review. If that’s not a recommendation of how fun these books are, I don’t know how else to put it.
The Big Book of Batman is exactly what it sounds like: a book filled with information and knowledge about the Dark Knight. The pages overflow with small details of his training, his vehicles, his rogues gallery, right down to what he carries in his utility belt. Nothing is too small to focus on, and the authors do a great job of diving into some of the more fun aspects of Bruce’s abilities. They call out his breath holding abilities, his detective skills, and his friendships with the other heroes of the DC universe.
The interesting angle of all these books is that they focus on the 1950s-1970s Batman who had a far more happy-go-lucky nature before Frank Miller coated him in a gritty paint scheme. He’s smiling in quite a few of these pictures, and his interactions with Robin and the rogues reminds me of my own childhood quite a bit, watching the 1960s TV version on re-runs.
One thing I appreciate a great deal is that they gloss over the “my Parents are deaaaad” aspect very quickly, and never re-visit it.
Bruce “lost his parents in a robbery,” and that’s why he’s Batman, end of story. My older son has seen this variation on the “lost parents” theme quite a few times in his reading life and now assumes that it means the parents were misplaced and Batman will have to find them at some point. Looking back at my own childhood, I realized that this is pretty much the same experience I had. It wasn’t until the 1989 Burton film that the tragedy that underscores the character was fully laid bare.
As my two fantastic kids are currently 4 and 2 years old, skipping over the dead parents aspect and focusing on a brilliant detective with cool gadgets and a kickass car is great. They’ve got plenty of time to see the cracked psyche behind the cool cowl, but for now I’m content to see them running across the backyard, throwing sticks as Batarangs, and using The Big Book of Batman as a reference guide to their own utility belts.
This entire line of books is a perfect addition to your kids’ bookshelves, and won’t leave you bored when you read it for the 112th time. I can’t recommend them enough.