For Christmas this year, my five-year-old son received Crayola's Story Studio Spider-Man Comic Book Maker. The set came with colored pencils, printer paper, and an access code so that we could log onto the Crayola Story Studio website and make comic books.
I wasn't sure how the "comic book making" would go. After all, my son is only five, and the package said ages six and up. But in short, he LOVED it. It's probably been his favorite present so far.
The coolest thing about the story studio is that it allows you to insert your own character into the story. And you literally get to build this character, which means you can not only name the character after your child, but you can build him to look somewhat like your child as well.
The site also features a photo upload to build your character. Just a warning, but the photo/character look-alike doesn't come out the way it appears on the advertising. Uploading your child's photo only gives you a basic head shape and nothing else. You still have to build your character from scratch. This wasn't an issue for me or my son, who wanted a character with crazy hair and who wears a crown, not one who looks exactly like him. But I've read some reviews where parents were pretty miffed about the character not looking close enough to their child when all was said and done.
So how does the site work? It essentially gives you a series of choices. You pick the shape of your character's head, then his hair, eyes, mouth, ears, super power, cape, boots, etc. Then you pick your bad guy, and you get a nine page story based on the bad guy you've picked. Inside the story, most pages offer things you can change. So your child chooses whether the Green Goblin gets trapped by a web or a cage, whether Spider-Man stands in front of a car or rocket ship.
After you're finished, you can save, download, and print the story. The cover prints in color, and everything else is black and white. Nine pages of comic book is a LOT for a five year old to color. I doubt he'll ever color one of the stories completely. But he's still thrilled to have a story he created. As you can well imagine, we already have a story featuring my oldest, Nathanael, and my youngest, Jeremiah.
You can purchase stories for boys or girls. My son received the Spider-Man one, but Cars and Fairy Tale Princesses are also available, with Barbie and Star Wars coming soon. The site allows you to save ten characters and ten stories to it, and you can delete these stories as you save to the computer. Overall, I'm pleased with this product, and I'm thinking my son will enjoy the $10.00 present for a long time to come. Because it's pretty cool to put yourself into a story with your favorite super hero. :-)