Friday, May 23, 2008

Wonder Woman

Several weeks ago, my five year old son Ethan and I were discussing Batman and Spiderman. Out of the blue, he asked me, "Mom, do you know why Wonder Woman only wears her underwear and high heels?" I thought about saying that it's because men draw her, but I told him I'm not sure, and I pointed out that she does wear bullet-deflecting bracelets. Needless to say, I was not satisfied with my answer. I remembered that my daughter Hayden had a Wonder Woman easy reader that she had loved when she was in preschool and kindergarten. Apparently Ethan had never seen it, because I also remembered that the Wonder Woman in that book was not a busty, scantily clad, crimefighting sexpot, but an athletic, more appropriately dressed, adolescent. What I could not remember was where that book was. So I began a search that took about two and a half weeks.

In the meantime, I asked some women friends how they might have answered Ethan's question. It was suggested that I refer him to the women's studies department of a local university. My friend Maureen quickly came up with a good theory that too much clothing would compromise the effectiveness of Wonder Woman's invisible airplane. My brilliant and very stylish sister-in-law Jane, wise to the ways of comic book heroes and villains, came up with my favorite answer: Wonder Woman wears only her underwear and high heels, "so she can attract the bad guys, then stomp on their instep with her stilettos."

When I stopped laughing, I eventually found Hayden's old book. As soon as I had it in hand, I recalled that it is one in a series, and we had borrowed others from our public library several times when Hayden was younger. They are even better than I remembered! The 32 page I am Wonder Woman, written by Nina Jaffe and illustrated by Ben Caldwell, is fantastic. Each page has limited text which benefits a beginning reader without sounding babyish. "Even though I can run the fastest and leap the highest, to laugh and play with my friends is best of all. That is the Amazon way." I love the accompanying images of the other Amazon girls engaged in sports and games with Diana (aka Wonder Woman).

Ethan and I spent some time this week reading these books together. I was happy that Wonder Woman looks more like a real girl than the other images he had seen of her. He thought it was cool that she can play tag with dolphins. Hayden was happy that I had found an old favorite to revisit.

These excellent paperbacks are available, new and used, from Amazon and may even be at your public library

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