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==Getting the Book== We were given the Leappad console system and a load of books and cartridges to go with it too, our friends children had outgrown them but as they still worked well she gave them to us. As the system was used mainly by her son we have ended up with more games aimed and boys really but as my daughter likes a wide range of characters it doesn't matter to her. I am not going to bore you with information about the actual console as I have already written a review on the console and don't want to repeat myself and bore you all. You can still get hold of the console even though Leapfrog have brought out a much more up to date version, you can pick these up pretty cheaply second hand although you can still get some of the books new on Amazon aswell as used, you can pay anything from £4 to £23 per book, I certainly wouldn't be paying £23. ==The Front Cover== The front cover of the book is made of thin card but has a glossy finish to it so is pretty strong. The book has a plastic covered metal spiral down the left hand side and then there is a red strip which tells you about the book. The main part of the front cover has a couple of the Cars characters such as Lightening McQueen and Rusty on the front of it and they are racing down the road. The red strip on the book has the Leapfrog logo on it, the age range which for this book is for ages 4-6 and a description of what this book should teach your child, this book is for reading and mathematics. It also covers, Reading comprehension Short Vowels Spelling Parts of Speech Compare and Contrast Skip Counting Addition Deductive reasoning As you can see one books really does cover a wide range of different things for your child to learn so even if they only got half of this out of a book the books would still be highly educational. ==To Use== To use the book you have to open the Leappad console which is done very simply by pushing in a button on the upper piece and then the console opens up like a book. You place the book you are going to play with inside the console and the spiral fits nicely into a gap in the console. You have to place the cartridge which matches the book into the console which is really easy as it can only fit in there one way and then press the on off button to start your play. The console is easy to work on my daughter is able to work the console and set up a new book on her own. ==The Book== Inside the front page of the book you have instructions on what each of the little pictures throughout the book can do, such as the game button, how to get the books to read and the volume controls all of which are very easy to work. The book pretty much follows the story of the Cars film which was the very first film that my daughter actually would watch as she is a little strange and doesn't really like Disney films as she says there is always a baddie and they are scary. My daughter knows the cars film word for word and doesn't understand why this is a more compact version of events and everything isn't exactly the same as the film. There is a go button on every page so that when you press it the console recognises what page you are on and then there is a speech bubble which you press for the book to read to you but you can also read the book one word at a time by pressing the pen down onto each individual word. My daughter likes to try and read the words for herself and then let the book read the word to see if she has worked it out right although this is a newish things she has started doing with the books as she begins to read more. If you don't do anything for a while when the system is turned on it has different sayings which it will randomly speak to encourage your child to keep playing. There are little triangles at the bottom of the page one with a + on it and one with a - on it and these control the volume of the book although it doesn't go up too loud so it is comfortable for the parents whilst their children interact with the book. Each page has a game button at the bottom of it so that your child can get even more out of them, the games cover a wide range of things that a child aged 4-6 should be learning. Sophie loves plasying the spelling game in this book where each picture of a car has a letter on it and she has to try and spell 3 letter words put of them, when she first started playing with this book she had the attitude of "I can't" but now she plays really well with the book and she is really proud of herself when the book congratulates her for spelling the word correctly. ==Opinions== Sophie loves playing with the book and the whole console system, she loves touching different cars on the pages and listening to what they have to say and I think it's great that the voices are the same as in the film. I think this and other books in the series have really helped to back up my daughter learning to read which I think is great and Sophie thinks is fantastic when she manages to work out a new word and she gets it right. Sophie hated reading when she first started school and I cannot say that this system has changed her mind but she certainly seems to enjoy reading more the more she plays with the system. I think the whole system is a fantastic invention, it helps your child learn to read but also how words are made up so that they understand the principles behind reading. The system teaches a great variety of things and different books cover different learning aspects. The books range from 4 years to 8 years so there is loads of time to get more from this system and her younger sister who is only 2 has started to point the pen onto pictures and listen to it so I think she will be playing with this well before she is 4. I cannot recommend this console enough and Sophie loves it, she will happily sit changing the books and playing through them all for hours at a time so I know she loves it and when she feels she has learnt something new or found a new answer she will come and show me what she has learnt - 5 stars.
Some of this information will be found in other Leappad book reviews that I have done but feel that they are necessary in each review for those readers that have not read the others. The main body of the review is different though and it's only background information that is similar. We gave my son his Leappad on his 3rd birthday and to start with he was happy to just press the green go circle on each page to hear the story. Over the past couple of years he has been getting a couple of books from my parents and us for birthday and Christmas presents and now that he is learning to read by himself he is moving on to some of the slightly more advanced books and especially loves the books that go with his favourite films. ***Background*** The Leappad is one of many electronic learning toys from Leap Frog. It is also available with a writing version nowadays but we have the original and it works by way of a book, a cartridge and an electronic pen that can be used to point to various things on each book. If you want to know more about the system itself, I have an old review lurking somewhere on the site about it. ***The Cartridge*** Before starting to use this book make sure the cartridge is pushed into the side of your Leappad so as it knows which book you are about to use. The cartridges are made of a pretty sturdy plastic casing with an opening at the side to be attached to the Leappad. This one has a picture of the Lightning McQueen on it as well as Cars written on it so it's easier for a child that can't read yet to see which one is needed. ***The Book*** Cars isn't a film that I've seen but my son and daughter keep telling me that I should watch it, but this means that I feel I can judge this book by it's own merits although I have been told that the story sticks mainly to the theme of the film. On the opening page of each book are the instructions on how to use the book and these are quite simple really. Each time a page is turned you can see that there is a section of text that is read out whenever the green go circle is touched. This button also lets the cartridge know which page you are on. I'm not sure how all the electronic side of things work but just that it seems very clever. There are also little pictures at the bottom of the pages that relate to games, repeating the question and volume control. If your child is reading the story and gets stuck on a word, that particular word can be touched and it will speak out what the word is. You can also choose to hear the whole of the text again by pressing the speech bubble beside it. The story here starts by introducing us to all the cars in the story. Turning the page treats us to the story of the film, but once that has been read there are lots of opportunities for your child to explore the page further. Touching the different cars with the pen will let them hear voices that they will recognise from the film and other objects make different sounds too. The games are varied throughout the book and all have something to offer a child in the way of learning different tasks. For example, one page has a spelling game to get children to spell 3 letter words. If they press the wrong car that the letter is on, they get a clue, such as try one on the blue cars. The book gives lots of encouragement even if they don't get the answer right straight away and a round of applause is given when they do answer correctly. Other games in this book include number and shape recognition, as well as a good one that associates expressions with feeling sad, happy, confused or angry. ***The Learning Factor*** Each book has learning levels applicable to the age group that the book is aimed at and some of these might be a little bit tricky to start with so support is recommended. The games teach all sorts of things that will help children at school or just recognising things out and about. The specific learning aids in this book that are highlighted are reading comprehension, spelling, short vowel sounds, parts of speech such as nouns and verbs, and counting, as well as recognising numbers. It is also highlighted for teaching children about comparisons and contrasts and how to find the answer through deduction. ***The Age Group*** The thing I like about this set of books is that they have an age group on them and this means that you can choose a book that won't be so advanced that they get frustrated with it but not so easy that they become bored quickly either. This one is for children aged between four and six years old but I have to say that my son was using some of this age group when he was only 3 with some help from me, so it really depends on your child's abilities. ***My Thoughts*** I think the Leappad is one of the best things that we could have bought my son. He loves books but is fascinated by learning about anything and when this is done in a fun way with games and a good story, he doesn't even realise that he is being taught important life lessons. This book was one that my son wanted for Christmas and like the Madagascar one he also received, this one was bought earlier because it was on for a fantastically cheap price in a sale. He loves to sit and play this one for ages and really takes pleasure from not only listening to the story but also by reading it himself. Being able to touch a word he is unsure of means he has the independence to use it on his own and not always have to be asking for help to sound a more difficult word out. There are a couple of favourite games in this book that he will sit and play over and over again and to be honest this can get a wee bit annoying but it keeps him happy so who am I to complain. The first is one that is similar to one in the Madagascar book and features a story with words missing along the way. These words are shown on the page by blue, green, yellow or red and correspond to giant billboards with pictures on them. One set are all verbs, another adjectives, one are all nouns and the final one is full of sound effects. Children have to choose one from each group at the appropriate time and the story will be told back to them from the words that they have chosen. It's good because there are five pictures in each coloured set so a variety of stories can be made. The other game he loves playing is one that has McQueen trying to reach the interstate and you see a maze of roads in front of him. Along these roads are numbers and when the game is started, the child has to move the pen along the roads until they reach the correct number that has been asked for. There are usually four numbers to get to and these go all around the maze in no particular order before the final one gets him to the interstate. This doesn't just help a child to recognise and find numbers but encourages them to have a good steady hand as the pen is moved over the roads. If it goes off the road there is a little reminder to stay on them next time. ***Price & Availability*** The great thing about this whole system is that there are a big variety of books around for ages up to 8 so if you have a three year old, it's certainly worth thinking about it. We thought it would work out quite expensive but there are always offers and sales on in stores such as Argos, Woolworths and even the official online store at www.leapfrogshop.co.uk. We got this one in the sale from Woolworths for only £2.99 and I notice that it is selling for that price at Amazon just now too so it really is a good buy. Online normally this would set you back around £11.99.
Encourage your child to learn while having fun at the same time. This interactive book allows children to say it, sound it, spell it and define it as they interact with pictures on the page.