Comics : Spider Sense Spider-Man: My First Puzzle Book (Phidal 2009)
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club
This review was first published on: Mar 2013.
Phidal Publishing have produced six (at least) of these padded "puzzle books" since 2009. So far, three of them star Spider-Man, two are "Marvel Heroes" with a Spider-Man guest appearance, and one is a "Marvel Super Hero Squad" with Spidey on the team.
While the colours and pictures are slightly different, these books are all about the format, so I'm going aim for some efficiency here and cover every one of them in the same single review. So, let's get to it.
Physically, each of these books is identical with 10.25" x 10.25" dimensions and thanks to their heavy cardboard construction and padded covers, just over 0.75" thick. That makes them great gifts, as they have a suitably imposing presence.
Each of the four hefty cardboard pages on the right-hand facing (and also the back cover) contain a 12-piece full-color jigsaw puzzle in a tray format. That makes five puzzles in total.
For the first puzzle, the left-hand facing page is the front cover, which has a large hole cut in it so that when the book is closed you can see right through to the first puzzle. On the left-hand facing page for all the other puzzles there is a large-print piece of text. For example on a puzzle with Spidey and the Green Goblin:
"Hot Pursuit: The Green Goblin is in hot pursuit of our favourite wall-crawler! Spidey uses his ultra keen spider-sense to dodge some flaming pumpkin bombs. Yikes! that was a close one!"
Once you remove all the pieces, the back of the tray has the same picture as the puzzle, making them trivially simple to place the pieces back in the correct place. But then again, this is clearly advertised as "My First Puzzle Book", so simplicity is exactly what you should expect!
The images are bright and vibrant, well-framed and with decent variety. The overall construction is superb and the padded cover gives a hint of luxury to a mid-priced product. The puzzle pieces are sturdy, as are the pages - in fact the construction is excellent in every aspect.
The text is pretty simple and undemanding, but tends to be suitably exciting with good flow for reading aloud, making this book appeal to both kids and their parents who have to add the voice-overs.
You can buy these books on Amazon and eBay from prices between $5 for the more common ones (although you'll pay up to $20 for the apparently more rare "Super Hero Squad" version).
At five bucks, any of these books would be a complete steal. Even at ten dollars, that's more than fair for five sturdy jigsaw puzzles in a self-contained high-quality book format.
My personal favourite from the lot would have to be the original Spider-Man one (with the orange cover). But they're all great, and I'm happy to give a four-web rating to the entire series.
Note for Completionists: Look carefully, there are TWO DIFFERENT versions of the Orange Spider-Man book! One from 2009, and another from 2010, with a different mix of villains on the cover, and some different (but not all different) puzzles inside! Confusingly, they both share the same ISBN 979-2-7643-1670-2.