Barbara Beery, The Ultimate Guide to Being a Superhero: a kid’s manual for saving the world, looking good in spandex, and getting home in time for dinner, Familius/Exisle Publishing, 14 June 2016, 160pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781942934455
It seems appropriate that this book has a secret identity. Under the exciting graphics and endless tips on becoming a superhero, lies a recipe and activity book for primary age kids. But this is no ordinary recipe book. Jam-packed with page after page of things to do, it promises hours of creative fun that is both simple and in most cases requires only what would be easy to find in the average home. Topics covered include Secret Identity 101, Dealing with Villains, Gear and Gadgets, Moves and Maneuvers and Being a Superhero. The superhero theme offers many possibilities for crazy activities (code-breaking and quizzes such as ‘Who is your ultimate villain?’), exciting crafts (outfits and accessories), and easy recipes, both savoury and sweet. As a parent the ‘dinner in disguise’ (shepherd’s pie dressed up as a cupcake) appeals, but the ‘glow-in-the dark kryptonite cupcakes’ would be a huge hit at parties. Many of the food options encourage healthy eating. There’s plenty of humorous advice on how to be the best superhero you can be, such as when to wear your cape, and how to get a supervillain to babble at you so you can escape.
The book’s colour scheme and images have a classic 60s feel, with a mix of photos and cartoon images. The layout is well designed: ordered, but with ‘messy’ elements that will appeal to kids. There is a balance of both male and female heroes and villains, in realistic outfits and with no gender bias in terms of careers. At the outset the book offers real world safety advice regarding what not to try at home and what might need a parent’s help. Visually appealing with exciting content, this is a book that kids will enjoy and come back to time and time again.
Reviewed by Rachel Le Rossignol