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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

I am Batman

Adapted by Catherine Hapka
Illutrations: Pencils by Adrian Barrios, Digital Paints by Kanila Tripp
Inspired by the film The Dark Knight
Publisher: HarperCollins, DC Comics, 2008

This book is part of the I Can Read! series; this title sits in the level 2 category, 'reading with help' (billed as 'high-interest stories for developing readers'). I'm truly grateful for this series as at various moments in their journeys to learn to read both Alf (now 7) and Bert (now 5) have declared that 'books aren't for them' (historically this has been at about 4 and a half), and this series has coaxed them back.  Without having ever seen the film Batman: Dark Knight they still expressed the opinion that 'Dark Knight Batman in black' was far cooler than 'Batman Bold and Brave in Blue' (so says five year old boys then). With these books it's like the battle to engage is won simply from the cover. 

In I am Batman the first half of the book introduces Batman, his alter ego, his gear, his gadgets, and some of his friends, such as Lucius Fox and Police Lieutenant Gordon. The second half of the book offers a smidgen of story; Batman's friend Rachel throws a party gatecrashed by The Joker, and Batman, and his gadgets, come to the rescue. There's a satisfying ending, with the joker about to spend time in jail, and Batman uttering the famous words, 'I am not just Bruce Wayne. I am Batman.' 

The graphics in the book are comicbook-like enough to feel grown up and as if you're accessing a book for older children. The prose is a little confusing: while the sentences are short, sensibly, there's a lack of fluidity in what's being told ( but then this is 'Batman' so that's fine, we're expecting some macho grunts). The vocabulary is very challenging, and there's a host of American English spellings and words: 'armor' for example, and 'apartment', but saying that, the batman specific vocabulary is appealing to my boys: 'gadgets', 'crime fighting gear', 'batarang' ( I'm always surprised how they remember these words and then they crop up in their own writing). Anything that fuels an interest in reading for that crucial 4-5 year old boy age group, to me, is worthy of applause. 

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