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When writing reviews, I am usually very careful not to give away the ending or any major spoilers. I do make an exception at times with children's books, usually where I feel some aspect of the story may be too frightening for some children, or very upsetting. In this case I am including a spoiler, but it will be clearly marked and easily avoided. If you are honestly planning to read this book for the suspense - do not read past the line of stars and spoiler alert warning at the bottom of the review. In this case I am not including the spoiler because it is frightening- but because I do feel it could influence a parent's decision to buy this book, and because the ending really stresses the point that this story is not going to give your child nightmares, despite a slightly scary monster on the front.
DC Superfriends is a series of story books for the very youngest superhero fans. My youngest is age 3, but will be 4 soon, and I did worry that this book might be too babyish for him. If your children are accustomed to storybooks from a very early age, I would recommend this for children as young as 12 months of age - with a maximum age of perhaps age 4 at time of purchase. That isn't to say and older child will not enjoy this, but there are much better choices for older children. I would make an exception to this for children who are still enjoying Fisher Price Imaginext Superheroes sets though as the characters are taken directly from the range of toys. They have a blockier appearance than is normal for DC Superheroes, and really are a perfect match for the toys.
Because these stories seem to be geared to very young children, there is very little violence, no bloodshed and no death. There is nothing that I would expect would frighten a child, even the monster, although he looks angry is kind of cute, and the battle doesn't really amount to much more than a bit of pushing and throwing. This may be a plus for parents who are concerned about violence in comics or super heroes stories, or for children who are easily frightened, but it could be a real negative for an older child who wants a bit more action and adventure. I think the drawings themselves, while cute , also will make this book best suited to a very young child.
The story in this book begins with a meteor showers. Batman, Superman, Hawkman and Green Lantern race about trying to intercept the falling meteors before they cause damage or hurt anyone, but one of these meteors is different from the rest. Something alive is inside - and that something isn't very happy when it breaks out. Now it is on it's way to Metropolis, smashing everything in it's path and the Superfriends seem powerless to stop it. As if things weren't bad enough two larger creatures are spotted descending from the sky.
I bought this because my youngest loves Green Lantern, but there are few books for small children that feature him. It was bought from Amazon so we couldn't really get a look at it before buying, but my son spotted the picture of Green Lantern and chose this, from a handful of books I had found for him to choose between. The price was only £2.59, so I was willing to take a chance on this if he liked the look of the characters. I'm glad I did. He loves this book and often calls out the creatures wailing cry :
"MMMMAAAARRRRAAAAWWWW". Even my seven year old finds this book funny, but it isn't something he would read by himself.
This book is intended to be read by parents, as it is likely to be outgrown before a child is really reading. So I am happy enough with the small print in either black or white printed over coloured backgrounds. If this were intended for younger readers, I would find the print much too small, but saying that, my seven year old reads it out loud to his brother without any difficulties.
Over all this is lovely story, made all the more lovely by the ending which I will discuss shortly, but I do have one major issue with it - advertising. Perhaps it is just me. I don't mind books advertising other books on the last page. In fact I often like it as my sons have both chosen books for future purchases this way, but I do resent large, very expensive toys being advertised. I wouldn't mind in a comic book either, I expect such things in magazines and comics, but these are not read every night for weeks. The advertising in this book is for the Fisher Price Imaginext line of toys, and where my son has seen these on things on TV he has never asked them for them, but carefully studying them in a book he has, and quite often. His birthday is already in, and I did consider these for Christmas, but they are very expensive and a bit babyish - I can't see him using the toys for long - so I am bit by bit buying pieces to build a book shelf version of the Batcave - with Spiderman's lab in the middle and perhaps a Justice League Headquarters for top shelf. It will likely cost be every bit as much in the long run, but using proper action figures ( which he already prefers) and having some fun extras like a working bat signal light and a complete lab set up for Spiderman - I hope it will get more play. I know all parents must deal with the bugbear of advertising, but I don't think children's story books are the proper medium for it. For this reason I am deducting one star from an other wise full 5.
If you do not wish to know how this story ends - please stop reading now. I am including this because the ending is what makes this story so cute, as well as guaranteeing it will not be the cause of any nightmares. You see the monster looks scary - but it is more frightened than frightening. Fortunately Green Lantern's power ring contains a translation device - and it turns out the creature is crying for it's Mommy. All of it's rampage and tossing the super heroes about are just the reactions of an angry but terrified infant or toddler - albeit a very large one. This turns from a monster story to a toddler with a temper tantrum - with very humorous results. Naturally the Super Heroes reunite the family and this ends on a happy note, perfect for bedtime.