Wonder Woman is probably the most iconic female superhero ever created: a strong, beautiful warrior with a heart of gold on a mission to bring peace to the world. So it’s about time she got a series of kids’ books devoted to her, so she can spread her message of positivity and self-worth to young girls. Capstone Books, publisher of several DC Comics properties aimed at young readers (through its Stone Arch imprint), has just announced its new line of Wonder Woman chapter books with four new books now debuting. We asked Capstone publisher Lori Benton to talk about the new books.
Tell us a little bit about this line of superhero chapter books. How did they come about?
At Stone Arch Books, our mission has always been to publish contemporary, compelling fiction that inspires independent reading, especially among struggling and reluctant readers. And of course, our hallmark is content that any teacher can confidently use in their classroom. During the past five years, we’ve pursued that goal by producing hundreds of acclaimed comics and chapter books for grades K–9 and created dozens of original characters. Teaming up with DC Comics gave us an excellent opportunity to fulfill our mission of reaching a wider audience and getting books into the hands of more readers. The first 12 DC Super Heroes books launched in 2008, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. They’ve been well received by reviewers (School Library Journal, Booklist, and others), but, more importantly, the kids are eating them up. Librarians have told me, “We can’t keep these books on the shelves!” Thankfully, more are on the way—a total of 48 in all, including Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman titles.
Which age groups is each of the books written to? What standards are applied to the books to ensure they are right for the audience?
The reading level of the DC Super Heroes chapter books is grades 2–3, while the interest level is grades 3–6, which makes them especially suited for reluctant readers. And of course we make sure every title has content appropriate for the classroom—no swearing, no nudity, and no excessive violence.
How do these books fit in with Capstone’s other line of products? Do you have other graphic-novel programs in place or coming soon?
Stone Arch Books has created a plethora of children’s comics in the last five years. We’ve published graphic novels and chapter books for the youngest readers, die-hard fangirls, and devoted fanboys. Although we strive to make products that are appealing to kids, our books include features that attract parents and librarians as well, such as leveled text, diverse characters, easy-to-read fonts, and appropriate content. The DC Super Heroes books are no different. Each one of these action-packed stories will hold its reader until the very end. And, when the reader turns that last page, they’ll find our signature back matter, which includes author and illustrator bios, a glossary, discussion question, and fun facts.
Why did you want to add Wonder Woman to the lineup of books you’ve published?
From the beginning of our partnership with DC Comics, we planned to include Wonder Woman in the DC Super Heroes lineup. Not only is she an ambassador of peace and a fearless champion of justice, the Amazon Princess is also an awesome example of “girl power!” Although our Batman and Superman titles are perfect for any reader, the Wonder Woman books offer a little something more—a strong representative of female empowerment. And of course, an invisible airplane!
What will the Wonder Woman books be about? How many will there be in total?
Of the 48 DC Super Heroes titles, eight will feature Wonder Woman. In these fast-paced, action-packed stories, the Amazon Princess faces off against some of her most popular villains, including Cheetah, Circe, Morgaine Le Fey, Dr. Psycho, and others. In one of my favorite stories, Wonder Woman treks into the rainforest, investigating a suspicious logging company. While there, she’s suddenly attacked by Gorilla Grodd and Poison Ivy! However, the foes soon realize that they share a common enemy with the Amazon Princess. And, for one day, they unite to stop the destruction of the rainforest. It’s a great example of how superhero stories can entertain, while also teaching important lessons.
What makes Wonder Woman such a great heroine to feature in these books?
Without a doubt, Wonder Woman is the world's greatest female superhero. As previously stated, she’s an advocate of peace, an example of empowerment, and an essential member of the Justice League. She also has some pretty cool weapons, such as her Lasso of Truth and bulletproof silver bracelets! And, each book features 10 full-color illustrations by the amazingly talented Dan Schoening, creating a perfect showcase for our über-superheroine.
These books will probably attract more girls to read them. To that end, are these Wonder Woman books any different from the other chapter books in terms of how girls will relate to them or the content in them?
Besides having a female protagonist, the Wonder Woman books aren’t aimed at a particular gender. Of course, young girls will find a super heroine on the cover appealing and we hope they'll be compelled to pick up other titles in the series. The same could be said for young boys. Although they might be more attracted to the Batman and Superman books at first, we’re guessing they’ll take a peek at the Wonder Woman titles as well—and they won’t be disappointed.
What has the response been to the entire superhero line of chapter books?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive! School Library Journal praised the books as “fast moving and entertaining” and Booklist called them an “an ideal launching pad into the vast world of Superman comics.” On top of these rave reviews, we’ve received amazing feedback from parents and librarians. Not surprisingly, the books are flying off the shelves, and they’re often checked out by some unexpected readers—girls, diehard comic fans, and adults! The popular Bruce Timm-style art and talented group of writers have attracted even the oldest comic book devotees.
Who are the writers you use for these books?
We’re extremely thankful to be working with an amazing group of award-wining writers, including Laurie Sutton, Lousie “Weezie” Simonson, Paul Kupperberg, Bob Greenberger, Matthew K. Manning, Martin Pasko, and others. Between them, these authors have decades of experience in the comic-book business, creating and writing some of the world’s most iconic superheroes.
What future superhero chapter books are coming?
Because of our early success, expect to see many more DC Super Heroes titles on bookshelves. As our wonderful partnership with DC Comics continues, I wouldn’t be surprised if other JLA members join the “Big Three” in future expansions of this exciting, new brand.