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I have written a few reviews about Leappad books in the past so some of the background information is similar but after discussions with the guide for toys I have decided to try putting this information at the end of the review instead of at the start. I would be obliged if you could give me your thoughts on the re-structuring.
This book is part of the Pre-Reading section and tells you that it is aimed at children up to 5. This means that the games will be more suitable to this age group and will not be too advanced for the younger users. Thomas was one of the first books that my son received and he loved it right from the start.
Most children are familiar with Thomas from the television shows and books and this one fits in nicely for any young fan. It tells the story of Thomas and introduces us to his many friends. When a storm hits the station at Sodor, Thomas has to help round up the Troublesome Trucks and help them bring the all the materials to repair the roof.
The games may seem relatively simple in this book but your child will be learning all the time. A lot of the games are to do with listening and memory but observation is important too. These are made more fun by familiar voices from the programs and this is sure to get a child interested in reading books.
There are lots of things that can be touched on each page that tell a little bit more information or give off funny sounds. There are also written words beside certain objects such as puddle and owl. This helps a child start to recognise words and encourages them to think about the way letters can be put together to make up these words.
***The Learning Factor***
This book is aimed at a younger child and has lots of activities that will suit. Picture recognition and matching is high up on the learning list here but there are also shape problems to solve and of course children can touch the words of the story individually so when they are starting to read, it can help them if they get stuck on one.
Lots of encouragement is given if a child doesn't get the answer straight away and this stops them from just giving up with the task in hand. Clues are also given to help them solve the puzzles.
***The Age Group***
This book is aimed at the under 5's and I think Leappad have become experts at getting these categories right. Of course some children will need more help than others and it does say that under 4's should be supervised with the Leappad system so it's something that can bond a parent and child too.
This isn't a book that my son will immediately reach for anymore because he has outgrown it a little bit at the age of 5. That's not to say he just leaves it to one side though, but uses it more as a reading book now rather than to do the simple tasks in the book.
The thing I like about these Leappad books is that they really encourage a child to start listening and following instructions and as any parent will know, this isn't always the easiest thing to master with a headstrong toddler. Getting a child to even sit still at times can be a problem in itself but this system seems to be able to hold a young child's interest for more than just 5 minutes at a time.
What makes this book fun for any fan of Thomas, is that they will recognise the voices from the show instantly and the characters are very much the same as on television. The story is simple but tells an important story of how helping as a team can get things done quicker and this is also a lesson that children should learn.
The games are quite good fun for a youngster of this age group and there are many different things on each page to keep them occupied. The sounds go really well with the pictures of animals and other things in the surrounding pictures and sounds are quite an important part of some of the games too, with one in particular which has children matching the whistle sounds to the different engines. This used to be one of my son's favourites.
Another favourite game was when he was asked to find certain things in a picture. For example he might be asked to find everything that has windows in it and has to touch the pen on the house, helicopter and the engines to get it all right. What he didn't realise at the time of doing all this was that during the games he was learning about colours and shapes whilst having lots of fun and that is really what is important for a child, especially for youngsters who tend to become bored easily.
It's sad in a way to see my son outgrowing some of these earlier books but I have to say that they have stood the test of time well and through careful handling they are in pretty good condition. This is another reason though to supervise younger children as the pages could easily be torn from the binders by enthusiastic little fingers.
My son got the Leappad system for his birthday when he was only 3 and has loved it ever since. I'm not usually one for battery toys but this learning aid has helped him understand a whole variety of things from letters and numbers to colours and shapes.
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.
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 the title of the book written on it but also has a picture of Thomas on it too so it's easy for a child that can't read yet to see which one is needed.
***Price & Availability***
I can't remember exactly what we paid for this book as it is quite a while ago, but I think it was around £6 from a sale in Argos at the time.
Of course prices vary widely for these books today and different toyshops have different promotions on all the time, so it's worth watching out for them in advance.
There is also a official site online where you can buy these books and you can find it at www.leapfrogshop.co.uk. This book can be found there for the full price of £11.99.
The Island of Sodor is turned upside down by a huge rainstorm. CRASH! BOOM! A tree falls and breaks through the station house. Thomas' friends come to the rescue by carrying vital supplies to making repairs. However when they don't return, Thomas braves the storm to find them and confirms what a hero he is.