This book by Parragon is an innovative little "secret super-hero diary/notebook" for boys.
I wouldn't dare to try and explain the psychology of the matter, but it's a simple fact of life that secret notebooks for girls are pretty common down in the toy aisle of your local discount store. Barbie diaries, fairy notebooks, writing books with a lock and key... all in subtly-different shades of pink and mauve.
But when it comes to books encouraging boys to write about themselves and their family? Well, they're much harder to find. But there's one right in front of you now! "Marvel Super Heroes: Super Hero Secrets".
This book is 6.25" x 8", and contains 42 pages of brightly-coloured content. The book is hardback, but with a soft puffy cover that actually makes the book well over half an inch thick. An elastic strap attached to the back cover can be wrapped over the front of the book - it stops the book from falling open accidentally, and grants an air of secrecy.
Almost every page is structured with dedicated spaces inviting the owner to write and draw specific information about themselves, their family, and their friends. e.g. Write your name and personal info. Record your fingerprint, list your special skills, add photos or drawings from your own life.
After covering those basics, the book then heads off into the super-hero territory and invites you to design a secret lair for yourself, draw yourself in secret disguise, describe your dream super-hero powers, and design yourself a costume. Then there's places to add info about your friends, school, family, birthdays, addresses, and lots more.
Marvel Heroes and Villains (including Spider-Man of course) illustrate every page, and occasional pages in the book are given over entirely to offering facts and info about classic Marvel super-heroes - just in case your imagination needs a little prompting, or you need a break because your hand is sore from writing too much!
This is an excellent product on many levels. Firstly, it's hugely valuable for what it achieves.
Despite the recent boost of "geek cred" in American schools, it can still be pretty tough to get boys interesting in writing about anything at all. It's just too easy for them to watch TV or play a computer game.
That is, of course, a tragedy. Creative writing is a vital ability in your adult life. I run a software business, and the ability to write clearly is an absolutely essential skill. Yet it's a capability that is increasingly rare among school-leavers.
Secondly, the content is great. Each page is wonderfully inviting. If I wasn't afraid to ruin my near-mint copy, I would be easily tempted to grab a pencil and write down my own dream super-powers! Of course, being a sophisticated adult, high on my list would be things like: "The ability to eat dessert without gaining weight," or "The power to manipulate time so that I could get eight hours sleep despite being woken repeatedly by my wife's snoring."
Finally, this book is excellent value, selling for US$5.99 for a book that looks great and feels great (thanks to the luxurious padded cover).
This is a great present for any kid who loves Super-Heroes and owns a pen.