His name is Bruce Wayne. His home is Gotham City. He lives in a big apartment. He owns a boat and a plane. He has nice clothes. He has a fast car. And he has a lot of other fancy toys and gadgets… He has a children’s book called Dark Knight: I Am Batman.
Yes, it’s the Dark Knight. In fact is IS The Dark Knight! This young reader’s book (recommended for 5-year-olds and up) is adapted from Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight film. You remember the one, it had Heath Ledger as the Joker and featured him ramming a pencil up a man’s nose until it shot into the brain, killing him almost instantly. But if you found that a bit too dark, want to ignore the whole Batman-being-chased-by-the-police thing and forget about the Two-Face subplot, this is for you.
Or, if you’re a little kid still learning the basics of reading (or have a small child, and The Cat In The Hat isn’t exciting enough), then this book is for them.
Dark Knight: I Am Batman tells the story of how Bruce Wayne is the Batman, how Lucius Fox invents all his gadgets, how the Joker has robbed a bank using a school bus, and how the clown prince of crime has gatecrashed a party. Naturally, the more adult aspects of the plot have been ignored, and Batman stops the Joker’s knockout gas by triggering the party’s sprinkler system. It’s a simple story and one which works for old and young alike.
Plus, at thirty pages long and about thirty small words per page, it’s a quick read. All the basic words that kids will need in life are in there, like Fox, Car, Jumps, Fast, Toys, Funny and, um, Police Lieutenant Gordon. And, of course, Batarang. What? Don’t you think that’s an important word for kids? It is if you’re hoping that they grow up to become good, decent, comic book-reading productive members of society. They have to start somewhere, and this is as good a place as any.
It’s interesting seeing the best – and one of the darkest – of Batman films adapted in such a way, when the film itself was rated 16 for violence and language. The kids who read this wouldn’t be allowed to actually watch that film. But there’s something reassuring about knowing that Batman can still be for everyone in some way, and help kids develop their reading skills.
Dark Knight: I Am Batman‘s art is decent and easy enough to follow, without being too scary. It’s odd seeing a version of Bruce Wayne with light brown hair, but the images of Batman, the “Tumbler” Batmobile, Bat-Pod and so on are all accurate to the film.
There are lots of ways to introduce kids to the joys of reading, and lots of ways to introduce them to the world of superheroes.