Hungry for both food and justice? Looking for something to do on a rainy day? Curious if there’s a way to cross-indoctrinate your child with super hero and non-super hero concepts at the same time? Once again, it’s the good folks at Downtown Bookworks to the rescue!
Few things generate more excitement in my youngest son than a fresh box of DC-branded goodies, so you can imagine his thrill when we got a shipment from Downtown last week. Inside, we found exactly what we’ve come to expect from the publisher: fantastically-conceived, beautifully-decorated tomes full of more puns and nerd-reverence than you can shake an escrima stick at.
With over 60 recipes, cookie cutters, stencils, and hero cutouts, The Official DC Super Hero Cookbook is the perfect way to have fun in the kitchen with your kids (or all by yourself!). And with a party-planning guide in the back, it should prove an invaluable guide when coming up with ways to celebrate special occasions. As with all of Downtown’s books, it’s packed to the gills with (mostly) Bronze Age artwork of a wide array of heroes, and even if you never get around to cooking anything, it’s worth picking up for the recipe names alone. Personal favorites include “Holy Guacamole with Caped Crusader Chips”, “Plastic Man Cheesy Breakfast Toasties”, “Gone in a Flash Pancakes”, and the best deep-pull you’re likely to find in a children’s book: “Nth Quinoa Salad”. Author Matthew Mead clearly has an appreciation for DC’s vast collection of characters, and I suspect your children will after spending some time with this cookbook, too.
This is, simply put, the ultimate activity book for DC fans and their kids. There are various sorts of activities to keep children busy and challenge their minds, which is great; but the real appeal here is in the details. Downtown is always digging deeper and pulling up characters out of obscurity, and they’ve managed to surprise me once again, dropping Mister Mind onto the first activity spread. A few more pages in? Author Sara Parvis is telling us where Shazam’s name comes from. Oh, and Deadman is in this book, too. Deadman! I think this might be his first appearance from Downtown.
But it’s not just about fan-service. This isn’t a book full of lame activities decorated with supers to make up for a lack of imagination. The aforementioned Shazam page? The activity asks your child to write the one word that they would want to shout to transform into an unstoppable hero. There’s a “Never Leave Home Without It” activity that shows us—with a classic comics image—what’s in Batman’s utility belt, and then has your kiddo draw what they would put in their own belts, because they “may need to be prepared for school, piano lessons, and soccer practice, as well as battles with villains.” How great is that? There’s plenty more classic comics goodness packed in this book’s 150 pages (including the Supermobile!), and it’s sure to engage you and your kids for hours on end.
What better way to teach your young ones about the English language than with a picture book that creates a strong association between academic knowledge and total comic book nerdery? My First Dictionary may not be my first dictionary, but it is most certainly the finest one I’ve ever had in my possession. Packed with amazing straight-from-the-comics artwork and plenty of usable, everyday words that your kids (and all of us) should know and understand, this book makes a great addition to any library.
No finer place for sure
I joke a lot about indoctrination when reviewing kids books, but in all seriousness, I really appreciate what Downtown is doing. As a comics fan, I love that my boys can appreciate classic artwork. I got into comics late, and it took me some time to acclimate to older books because of the color process. My kids don’t have that problem, because thanks to Downtown (and their dorky dad), this is just another way that these characters look, another equally-relevant interpretation. As a writer, I appreciate the effort that goes into crafting quality books. Downtown could probably move a ton of units just on DC brand recognition alone, but they don’t rest on that as a crutch. They make stuff that is worthy of the DC brand—they enrich what we already love, and take it into corners of our lives where it didn’t use to travel. Hats off to them.