Marvel Super Hero Squad: Phonics Reading Program Book 1 - Short a

Background

This little set of 12 phonics book in a hard slip-case is a pretty popular format these days. It's a similar format to the earlier Spider-Man: Phonics Fun set from Harper Collins (although not exactly identical in size, the HarperCollins books were a bit larger).

Note that these twelve-pack phonics sets are not just limited to Marvel heroes, I've seen same-format sets featuring My Little Pony and all sorts of other classic characters.

Story 'Stop Magneto's Plan!'

Each of the twelve books is 5" x 5" with 12 pages per book. Each focuses on a particular sound (or pair of sounds). For example, the first book is "Short a", so it has text like "Bad Guys jump out of a van", or "The heroes will camp and then have a nap." Did you spot the short "a" vowel sounds? I hope so!

Spider-Man appears in eight of the books. That's pretty good going, since he's not official a member of the Super Hero Squad.

General Comments

I don't particularly like the Super Hero Squad. In fact I'm not really a fan of Spider-Man tie-in kids books in general. Most of them abuse the character terribly, spitting out a bad story in the process.

So that's why I was so pleasantly surprised by these books. The phonics takes front stage here, shamelessly driving the text fragments as needed. The Super Hero Squad and Bad Guys are used as daft props, shuffling from scene to scene in an almost surreal fashion. It's all totally harmless fun, and language instruction comes out the clear winner.

The artwork is generally bright, inoffensive, and supportive of the text. I strongly suspect that most of the illustrations are actually "borrowed" from other Super Hero Squad stories. I also noticed a "Hulk Smashes through the wall" picture that appeared in two of the books, so there's definitely some recycling going on.

However, recycled or not, there's a pretty good range of scenes and colors, and the result is a visually appealing, product that should appeal to kids without offending the more fussy tastes of adults.

Overall Rating

There's no writer credit on this set. But to whoever put this pack together... well done. Yes, this is a formula-driven assembly of silly text and repackaged illustrations. But the result is effective and surprisingly palatable.

Four webs, and my general recommendation to the parents of young readers.

Footnote

Note that while the Spider-Man: Phonics Fun set was available in the U.S., this Marvel Super Hero Squad collection appears to be an Australia-only offering just for the moment.