A True Wonder: The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything

Clarion. Sept. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358238423.
Gr 3-5–Focusing on the ups and downs of Wonder Woman’s status as a role model, Larson begins with the superheroine’s origins in 1941. The author details changes through the years as Wonder Woman went from capturing enemy soldiers and even serving as president of the United States (in the far future) to, in the 1950s, just angling to retire and marry before being revived as a feminist icon in subsequent decades and becoming the strong, independent TV and movie star of today. Skipping over seamier details (Wonder Woman’s creator William Marston was a real piece of work, by other accounts), the author names and pays tribute to the women writers and editors who played prominent roles in the predominantly white male world of comics publishing to create the WW stories and, later, films. In a personal afterword preceding the generous list of further resources, Larson also connects Wonder Woman’s long fight for social justice to real-world struggles for civil and equal rights. Possibly for licensing reasons, Wu steers clear of clear or conventional depictions of Wonder Woman—and covers her cleavage with discreet swirls of bunting to keep censors at bay, too—but fills the illustrations with images of proud, active fans, mostly (but not entirely) girls and women, of diverse races.
VERDICT References to Diana Prince’s actual adventures and feats are scattered, so readers will have to look elsewhere for her background and exploits, but this picture book tribute provides a strong motive for doing so.

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