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I wrote to the Zoo... to send me some ear-plugs
Dear Zoo Noisy Book - Rod Campbell
Member Name: KLockwood75
Dear Zoo Noisy Book - Rod Campbell
Advantages: Simple story, predictable text, realistic animal sounds, very interactive
Disadvantages: The repeated pressing of the sound buttons can be annoying
Dear Zoo has been a favourite in this house for a few years now. My son had the classic hardback version of the book, with its simple story and flaps to lift which we always enjoyed reading together. My daughter was given the Dear Zoo Noisy Book last year and this is now a firm favourite for story time. She does tend to go through phases of preferring a certain book and this is one that has been the book of the moment several times now.
*The Classic Story*
In case you are unfamiliar with this modern classic for toddlers, Rod Campbell's book tells a very simple tale. A child (non gender specific - always a positive thing in my opinion!) writes to the zoo asking them to send them a pet. The first box that comes back is an enormous red crate - on lifting the flap, you discover that the zoo has sent an elephant. Of course, an elephant is 'too big' so they send it back. The story continues in the same vein with a succession of animal containers arriving, each containing a different animal. There is the giraffe ('too tall'), the lion ('too fierce'), the camel ('too grumpy'), the monkey ('too naughty') to name just a few. Eventually, the zoo gets it right and sends a puppy which is 'perfect'. The simple language of the book, the brightly coloured animal pictures and the flaps make this story instantly appealing to it's toddler target market. There is everything that my two year old likes in a book - an element of predictably in the consistent pattern of the language, an element of suprise when lifting the flaps (although by the 100th reading I'm not convinced that even a toddler is suprised at what they find behind the flaps) and a happy ending.
*The Noisy Additions*
What distinguishes this version of Dear Zoo from the other versions is the addition of an sound pad on the right hand side of the book. This sound pad is the same height as the book and features pictures of each animal with a speaker at the bottom. As you read the story, your child can find the animal picture, press it and it will make the noise of the animal. Great for adding another interactive feature and for encouraging the recognition of animal noises, not so great when you are reading the story and listening to the sound effects for the 10th time in one morning. The noises themselves are pretty good in my opinion - the elephant trumpets, the giraffe munches leaves, the lion roars, the camel grumbles, the monkey chatters. I find it entertaining to encourage my daughter to imitate the noises as we go along - she does a fantastic lion roar and monkey noise, her camel grumble requires a bit more work. In addition to the noise panel, this book also has a question section at the back with questions like 'which animal came in this crate' or 'what noise does this animal make?' - very simple, but again good for making the book into a bit more of a learning experience for the slightly older toddler.
Dear Zoo Noisy Book has an RRP of £12.99, which I think is a bit expensive, but is currently available for a slightly more reasonable £9.09 on Amazon.
*Would I Recommend It?*
Yes, I would definitely recommend this book. As previously mentioned, the original Dear Zoo is one of the enduring favourites in this house and the noisy version does genuinely seem to enhance the reading experience for my two year old. I do feel that Dear Zoo is a lovely book in its own right and doesn't 'need' the added sound effects, but anything that encourages children to sit down and enjoy books is never going to be a negative in my house. I also feel that it is the kind of book that makes a good gift - the story is appealing, the language is simple and the sound pad is entertaining. It is also ideal for young readers with its large clear text and repetitive language, although my son knows the book so well that he doesn't actually need to look at the words. The only minor niggle is that because toddlers are so fond of repetition, you do end up listening to the animal noises over and over and over again, but to be honest, it is a perfect book to sit down with, cuddle up and enjoy together.
Summary: A lovely book to enjoy with your toddler