There are many books out in the world that give children an introduction to the major superheroes of the past, present, and future, but the latest, published by Downtown Bookworks out of New York, use the original art to explain the origins of DC’s greatest heroes. The Big Book of Superman and The Big Book of Wonder Woman each go back to the very beginnings of the heroes and translates them into contemporary, easy reader language. The end result is two slick, well-designed books that introduce yet another generation to the pillars of the comic culture.
Each page (or set of pages) covers one aspect of the hero’s life, history, or powers. The original comic art is paired with bold text and bright colors, sure to attract the attention of younger readers. The simple language used in the descriptors on each page caters towards beginning readers and the action is dynamic enough for younger children to stay attentive while being read to. Both books end with a long-standing educational technique of asking follow-up questions for kids to consider what they would do with their own super powers.
My one concern with The Big Book of Wonder Woman was the drastic variations in style throughout. Superman has looked pretty much the same since his debut with few dramatic shifts in design until the ab-crazed 1990s. Wonder Woman, however, has had some drastic redesigns and it shows. A few pages with original, Betty Boop-haired Wonder Woman alongside more mid-century takes gives some jarring perspective on the Themysciran hero, but my own kids didn’t blink at the differences.
My boys embraced both books, enthralled by the stories of two of their favorite heroes. The books are fairly durable and have been a bedtime favorite for our littlest one for quite some time. (I had to wrestle the Wonder Woman book away from him to write this review). If you’re a comics fan looking for a way to introduce the original characters to your children, Downtown Bookworks’ books are a great place to start.