Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Preschool Princess of Themyscira

Posted by Don MacPherson on May 31st, 2017

Be a Star, Wonder Woman! hardcover children’s book
Writer: Michael Dahl
Artist/Cover artist: Omar Lazano
Publisher: Capstone Publishing/Capstone Young Readers imprint
Price: $15.95 US
I was provided with a digital review copy of this incredibly cute and timely Wonder Woman book for kids. While I didn’t have a physical copy, the nature and layout of the story and art led me to believe this is what they call a “board book.” It skews to a very young reader (the little Wonder Girl is depicted as being kindergarten age), so I would expect a heavy, cardboard-like stock would be the most likely medium for this quick read (Capstone’s website refers to this book as being “paper over board”). It’s wonderfully charming and cute, both visually and in terms of the message it offers its young audience. While the motif here — juxtaposition of super-hero action with the daily endeavors of a little kid, trying to learn and develop — is far from original, it’s certainly effective.

As Wonder Woman does battle in the city with two dragons and the sorceress Circe, a little girl embarks on her own adventures and challenges at kindergarten, approaching two classmates bickering over toys and taking on the task of climbing a rope ladder on the playground. She finds her own everyday ways to be a heroine.

For the Wonder Woman scenes, artist Omar Lazona adopts the well-known, Bruce Timm-inspired design for the animated incarnation of the title character from the Justice League cartoons of several years ago. Given this book’s release this week, it’s a little surprising, given there’s a new design in Justice League Action that’s more in keeping with the big-screen look of the Amazonian Princess. Still, given the simple but striking look of the Timm-esque design, it makes sense that it would be so lasting and reliable. What’s far more eye-catching in this book, though, is the the design for the little girl whose daily efforts mirror Wonder Woman’s mythic exploits. She’s incredibly cute and colorful and charming. Her determination, hope and sense of wonder (at the prospect of learning and connecting with other kids) all shine through in Lazano’s artwork. The classic Wonder Woman colors of red, blue and gold dominate the entirety of the book, and I love how bright and crisp those tones are.

Given the greater push toward bringing female creative voices into all aspects of art and culture, I’m surprised to find two men’s names as the main credits for this book, especially given the Wonder Woman connecting and its release coinciding with the debut of the Wonder Woman movie. A little online research shows writer Michael Dahl has crafted two other DC-related books in this vein — Bedtime for Batman and Good Morning, Superman — so it certainly makes sense that he would continue the series. That leaves me wondering why the editors didn’t seen out a woman to illustrate the book. Still, I absolutely adored what Lazano did here, and I don’t want to take away from his delightful contribution to the book.

I really only had one issue with this book: its price. Sixteen bucks seems like a rather steep price for such a basic book, such a quick read. It’s perfect for new readers, but even the little tykes will likely breeze through this book. Of course, I can only assume Capstone, with the previous two books in the series, has established its market for them. I can only say the price of admission would be enough to give me pause in a bookstore.

Setting that issue aside, I have to admit that if my son and nieces weren’t already beyond this reading level, I’d to put this book in their hands in a heartbeat. The positive messaging, the brightness of the colors and the accessible reading all make for a wonderful addition to any toddler’s bookshelf. I also really love the juxtaposition of the super-hero adventures with the regular activities of a kid’s day. Not only does it tell a kid how to see himself or herself in a dynamic, fun light, it also introduces the notion of parallels in storytelling at an earlier age. I suspect that would lead a young reader to develop into one seeking more challenging and innovatively constructed fiction in the future. 8/10

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