Verdict: 978-1-4847-5075-9 / 5
Is My Ultimate Super Hero Manual the best activity book ever? Almost definitely.
Activity books are always a great way to combine a little reading, a fair amount of learning and a lot of fun for kids. They may be a bit old-fashioned when compared with the latest console games, but they’re still cooler. Lately there have been many franchise activity books, like Lego Batman’s Guide to Being Cool (rating: cool), Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2’s sticker/activity book (curiously over-hyped as the best in the galaxy… presumably one of Star-Lord’s bright ideas) and several Star Wars collections (the Force is always strong with them).
But My Ultimate Super Hero Manual is cooler, greater and stronger than all of them. Despite its comic book style cover, it’s only slightly larger than your average paperback, so it looks like a regular book only more fun. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but promising games, heroes and activities – while having a bold disclaimer that the book itself won’t give you super powers – it lives up to its own hype. The back cover blurb highlights the sense of humour found throughout, pointing out that its owners can proudly boast that they now have a book in their collection which is 172 pages long!
It contains an amazing variety of activities for Marvel fans, including mazes, word puzzles, craft builds, cut-outs, D&D-style lists to create your own superhero, pop-out cardboard dice to play games with, and even a choose-your-own-adventure story. Combine that with an astonishing array of Marvel characters, from the obvious (Spider-Man, Captain America) to the unexpected (Squirrel Girl and The Wasp), along with the book’s light-hearted sense of humour (such as the Red Skull complaining about how readers may be building a secret headquarters in his bathroom) it’s a real treat.
You never know what the next page may bring, but it’ll always be something entertaining.
It’s s also a book for fans of all ages. Many activity books come across as being primarily for kids. Yet this one taps into the big kid in all of us, regardless of age. I instantly found myself grinning and laughing at how playful it was as I went through it. It reminded of the brilliant activity books I had when I was eight years old, which seemed to contain everything you could possibly want from a book. When one of the first pages encourages readers to write and draw in the book and just enjoy it, it’s a liberating feeling for anyone of any age.
If you’re looking for a book that provides helpful hints like how to avoid being hit by a death ray, teaches you how to build a shield better than Captain America’s, advises you to find allies who know where you can buy purple trousers in bulk and has the schematics for SHIELD’s helicarrier, this is the one for you. It’s more fun than you could ever imagine!