Audio : Spider-Man 2: Play-a-Sound (Movie Tie-in Sound Book)
The Spider-Man 2 Movie spawned a flood of tie-in books, including two push-button play-a-sound style audio books. Rather than being a matching pair, these two books are more like big brother and little sister. What they do have in common is their relatively high quality digitised sound, and impressively loud speakers.
Spider-Man 2: Play-a-Sound (Movie Tie-in Sound Book)
Jun 2004 : SM Title
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This is the big brother to the smaller Spider-Man 2: All in a Night's Work (Movie Tie-in Sound Book). It measures an impressive 12" x 12.25" corner to corner. Like all such books, the sound bar takes up some of the right hand side, so the open-out component is only 8.5" x 12.25". The back cover and the front of the open-out book part is glossy hard-cover. The sound panel features a whopping 16 different sound buttons. Woohoo!
Inside, there are 21 pages, which follow the movie plot relatively closely - probably more closely than any of the other kids books released to tie-in with the film. Each page features around seven lines of text, with two to five sound effects per page. The art is drawn, not photos. We start with Peter at Aunt May's house, worrying about the fact he doesn't spend enough time with MJ. Then Petey becomes Spidey to stop a bank robbery.
Next Peter heads to school, and meets Doc Connors, who tells him about Otto's presentation. Peter attends the presentation, and Otto duly has his accident. Peter and MJ have lunch, where Peter fails to tell Mary Jane how he feels about her. But then Ock arrives, and Peter has to scarper because his Spider-Sense is tingling. Ock then grabs Parker, and demands that he contact Spidey. Actually, there's something kind of funny with that particular picture - Peter is drawn as a blond! Damnit, it's not hard to get hair color correct, you know!
Anyhow, Spidey turns up at Pier 56, where there's no sign of any machine, instead Spidey and Ock just have a good old-fashioned scrap. Ock loses, suddenly has a moment of conscience, and allows himself to drown. Then the next day Peter and MJ meet for coffee again, and Peter and MJ agree to work harder at being... good friends. There's a nice finishing touch - the shadow Peter casts on the wall is Spidey's shadow. The end.
Given the twenty pages, I guess they did a pretty good job of trying to pack some of the elements of the film. At least they do better than nearly all of the other Spider-Man 2 kids books. No sign of Harry, or astronaut John Jameson, but at least we get Otto and Mary Jane, plus Aunt May. What's more, we actually get a pretty coherent storyline that has content that is suitable to the age of the reader.
Add in the sixteen excellent sounds, and the overall attractive look and feel of this book, and you end up with a rather pleasing product. I did think that Otto's sudden switch to being good was a little sudden and perhaps confusing without the broader context that the film provides, but that's a minor complaint. Let's give the book the benefit of the doubt.
This is an impressive book, which would make a great gift to any young Spidey fan. It aims high, and hits the spot nicely. The minor story weakness can be easily forgiven.
Four solid webs. Well done, Meredith & Co.
I think Meredith Books (no relation to guitar/singer Meredith Brooks) seem to have recently lost their founder, E. T. Meredith III (1933-2003). However, that hasn't sapped their spirit. According to their cover page, "All of us at Meredith Books are dedicated to providing you with information and ideas to enhance your life." Now, isn't that inspiring!