“ Author: Barbie Heit Schwaeber / Illustrator: Thomas Buchs / Hardcover: 28 pages / Publisher: Smithsonian / Published: Jan 2010 „
This is really lovely book, printed on an exceptionally thick card. It features one dinosaur for each letter, with a well drawn illustration and a few brief facts presented in a rhyming text. At the bottom of each page are two lines with the upper case letter shown in black, grey, dotted lines, and finally a blank section so children can read the letters, trace over them with the special pen and then practice their own. The books zips up into into a built in case with room for a pen and small cloth so you can take this out and about as well. Also included with the book is a pen, stickers and a cd rom. We did not like the cd rom at all it is just a very horrible song about the alphabet, followed by instructions for using the book, and finally an audio version of the book. The narration is in an American accent with a somewhat unpleasant pitch, and I prefer to read the book to my children myself, but this might be useful to listen to in a car or when parents haven't time to read the book - at least if you can stand listening to it. My children did not like the sound either. I would also note that the dialogue is spoken very quickly though - making it more difficult for a child to follow along in the book.
This was bought for my 4 year old, but my 7 year old enjoyed reading the book as well. The dinosaur facts are short, but interesting and well written and written in rhyme. I believe the rhyming format is most suitable for very young children. There are a few duds though such as this line"Dinosaurs died long ago but we can go to see them. Let's go on a field trip to the Smithsonian Museum". My 4 year old was absolutely delighted with the book and was happily practicing his alphabet until the pen ran out of ink. The pen was very easy to wipe off, but sadly did not last very long - so I would suggest the purchase of a small set of dry erase pens with this book, or Crayola washable pens. We are using Crayola washable at the moment and they work wonderfully. I do find that I need the slightest bit of dampness on the cloth to clean the book afterwards but this true with the dry erase pens I bought as well, especially if the book sits for awhile before cleaning. Of course too much moisture would ruin any book so I use a fleece with only the slightest bit of dampness and another cloth to make sure the book is completely dry afterwards. The pen which came with this was easier to clean, but as mentioned it did not last very long at all, and I have not been able to find another set quite so easy to clean.
Despite the fact that we did not really like the cd - rom and the pen ran out of ink after only one use, I have still given this book 5 stars. This is simply because we really do love the book itself. I do wish the book included both upper case and lower case letters, but I was aware of this fact before purchasing the book and so will not rate down for this issue.The illustrations are exceptionally well done showing a real artistic talent and great attention to detail. My children both enjoy looking at these and I like the fact that my son is associating letters with the starting sound for each dinosaurs names.
What really makes this book worth buying to me is the writing part. Even my oldest son has been playing at copying his letters, and this may not be a bad thing. he is age 7, but penmanship has always been his weakest area in school work and this shows the correct formation of each letter. I absolutely would never have imagined my son writing for fun - but this book encouraged him to do just that.
The book was really bought for my youngest though, and at age 4, this is a wonderful resource for him to begin to learn to write. He just missed the deadline for P1 so will not start school ( or home education in our case) until next September, but I feel the very best way for a child to learn is by their own choice. This is a book that he happy to take out and enjoy without the slightest concept of the fact that what he is doing is also highly educational.
I feel that this book could suit a very wide age range. The very heavy wipeable pages mean even a baby could enjoy listening to this book and looking at the pictures. As soon as they are old enough to hold a pen they could scribble in the pages - although I do have some worries that if allowed to draw in this a toddler might try the same with another book. Still I imagine most children could understand this is a special book and have a go at tracing the letters by age 3. I would not have thought of this book for a child who is already writing, but seeing how much my 7 year old enjoyed it - I will recommend this for older children who could do with a refresher in penmanship as well. I do not recommend this book for someone who is looking for a book filled with facts and interesting information about dinosaurs though, and would look to DK first for that type of book.
Finally in reviewing this book, I have noticed the stickers are all still there. There is a small picture to match each large picture, but as it is the exact same picture my son has not wanted to use these on the book, and hasn't found another use for them yet. I'll likely find them on a bed or wall soon. For some reason - he always chooses my bedroom to decorate with stickers but I don't really mind. If they last though, I'll see about helping him make a nice prehistoric background scene to decorate with them. They are very small - roughly 1" wide, but they are nice. You also gt an upper case alphabet, and a few extra dinosaurs with text like "SPIKE", "CLAW" and "RUN".
Looking back on my Amazon account, I have paid £10.96 for this book shortly before Christmas. At the moment they are asking an insane £33.78 for this exact book. However there appears to be very similar updated version without the zipper for £7.62 new and delivered. This one is simply called " Dinosaurs Write-With-Me Alphabet ", is also produced by the Smithsonian and has the same cover art as my book. It does have a different author listed though so I expect the text may have been updated. In this case I don't feel this is a big uissue as the main reason to buy this book is for the writing practice. My version is called " Smithsonian: Dinosaurs and More!: Write-With-Me-Alphabet. My son does like the way this zips into its own case, and I think this is a nice feature as well - but nowhere near nice enough to justify spending an extra £24 + change. Please be aware though that there is also a paperback version of this book without a pen which I believe is not intended to be written in, but is just meant as an alphabet book to read. The pictures in this book are nice, but the text is fine for an activity book, but not really not good enough to make this book suitable as just a reading book. Perhaps the updated version is better. If it did not have the section to write in, I would not be very happy with this book. If you are looking for a dinosaur alphabet book for reading only - I would recommend The Dinosaur Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta or An Alphabet of Dinosaurs by Peter Dodson. If you do decide to buy this book - please read the product description carefully and be sure you get the *write* one.
I've had to update this review after my son finally decided to remove the stickers. It tunrs out the sticker pages were heavily glued to the book itself, peeling off part of the book with them when I removed the pages. Of course I could return this to Amazon for my money back as they have a brilliant exchange policy - but my son would never part with. Time to get the Scotch Magic tape out! I considered removing two stars for this, but my son really does live the book. As long as you know about the problem you can carefully cut the pages out, but you will have to leave strips of the waxy white paper the stickers come on. This really did annoy me, but in all honesty - I would still buy the book again. We've just finshed doing the stickers and he is happily writing in the book as I type.