HarperCollins has produced a few of these 8" x 8" soft-cover Spider-Man kids picture books, but this one is a little bit special. Instead of the regular 24 page format, this one is 16 pages, but six of the pages have a sort of "gate-fold" flap. It's kind of a lift-the-flap book, with a hint of Playboy centerfold.
The fold-out segment is 3.5", meaning that the page goes from 8" x 8" to 11.5" x 8". Opening up the flap shows an "extended" version of the page with the same background, but with extra content.
The "extendable" pages are page 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15. In order to support the flaps, all of the pages are of thin card rather than paper. This makes the whole book thicker than a regular book.
To the Bat-Story, Robin!
It's Christmas. Oh, sorry. It's non-denominational Holiday Season in America. Silver Sable has been hired by the Kingpin to steal the "Holiday Diamond". Spider-Man must keep Silver Sable from stealing the diamond. The diamond is being displayed in a department store.
How does Spider-Man know about the theft? Why is the diamond in the store? Why is Silver Sable now a criminal instead of a bounty hunter? These questions and more will not be answered within these pages.
All we are told is that Silver Sable wants to find the diamond before Spider-Man can stop her. "Where could the diamond be?" she asks herself.
WHAT? The diamond is being displayed in a department store... in public... and super-agent Silver Sable hasn't even bothered to find out where in the store it is being displayed? Seriously? Stealing giant diamonds is so easy these days, all you need to do is wander in to a store with a bag over your shoulder and help yourself?
Did I mention Silver Sable is in full costume?
Well, Silver Sable hunts the diamond throughout the store, encountering Spider-Man, hiding from Spider-Man, and generally making a fool of herself. Is the diamond in Non-Denominational Fat Gift-Giving Man's Cave? Is it by the Train Set? Is it in the Make-Up department? No... the diamond is at the top of the store's Non-Denominational Holiday Tree!
And what a diamond. So big that it hardly fits in Spider-Man's hand, this is clearly the biggest diamond in the entire world. It's hard to do the exact maths, but I'd figure it about ten times the size of the Great Star of Africa (530.2 carats, 106.04 g). And it's sitting on top of a tree, unguarded. I bet there's a story behind that... I'd love to hear it. Go on... I have the time. Oh, we're at the last page. No room, huh?
Nope. There's just enough room for Silver Sable to grab the diamond, only to be foiled by Spider-Man at the last. The End.
Writer Michael Teitelbaum is a well-known name among Spider-Man prose writers. He has penned many a Spider-Man kids book over the last couple of decades, and I bet ya ten bucks he knows that Silver Sable isn't a crook. Equally, I'm confident he knows that the entire story is completely ridiculous.
So what should I do here. On one hand, I have a long-standing history of savaging stories which ignore all the rules of common sense. But on the other, I'm confident that this is entirely deliberate. This is a fun story for kids, and it feels no obligation to pay homage to (a) Regular Spider-Man continuity or (b) the conventional laws of accepted intelligent human behavior.
Quite a conundrum.
I'm going to go easy on Mr. Teitelbaum, this time. The text is well-pitched for a pre-school audience, the art is bright and friendly, and the overall production values are high. Apart from some silliness, there's nothing otherwise objectionable about the story.
I'm going to give it a solid three webs, despite my credulity being stretched beyond breaking point from cover to cover.