Golden Books were doing all sorts of great stuff back in the eighties. As well as their range of more general "coloring books", they also produced a set of four Marvel Super Heroes "workbooks". There were two "Fun with Words" workbooks, one featuring Spider-Man and one featuring The Hulk. There were two "Fun with Numbers" books also, featuring The Fantastic Four and Captain America respectively.
This book is large, at 8 1/4" x 11 1/2". The cover is soft card, and there are 48 newsprint paper pages. Surprisingly, the interior is rich color, with high quality pigment which hasn't faded at all, in comparison to the newsprint pages themselves which have tanned with acid staining.
The exercises generally involve a mix of basic reading skills and contextual comprehension, e.g. drawing circles around words or objects, or connecting objects by lines to other with which they share a logical connection. There are some letter-tracing exercises, rhyming exercises, and so on. There's no messing about here, you get 47 pages of exercises, each slightly different, and each great fun for the Marvel Super-Hero-Fan in your family.
One of the exercises is "which of these two letters does this object start with? Color it in." ... and you have to figure out that the picture of the fish means you have to color in "F" and not "B". That indicates to me that the expected student reading level is pretty low. Too low, in fact, to read the instructions for each page. That means that close parental assistance is required with these book. Which makes it a little bit of a shame that the information for parents is limited to the couple of paragraphs on the back cover.
It's hard to ignore the impact that the high-quality color printing makes. The pages aren't full color - the characters and some of the items are colored, but the backgrounds are plain. That makes sense, this isn't a comic. The color is there to be attractive without being a distraction, and that is what is achieved.
The actual drawings are clean and capable. The exercises are probably a bit on the easy side. Once the kid understand what's required, they're likely to finish each page in less than a minute. That makes this book idea for a "teaser" book, for kids who perhaps are really struggling, and who need a workbook which is (a) fun-themed and intrinsically appealing, and (b) simple enough for them to get an immediate feel of success and motivation.
This is an attractive book which meets the needs of a specific learning group. I'm gonna give it a fine four webs.
Even though Spider-Man doesn't headline the other three workbooks, I'm pretty sure he makes guest star status in all of them. I'll try and track them down on eBay and review them too.