Further to one of my previous reviews, my son recently asked for a book about ghosts. He was promised one on the condition that he received a good behaviour sticker at nursery. He did this and so we quickly ordered one. As I simply cannot buy a gift for one of my children and not for the other, I browsed Amazon to find a suitable little book for my one year old daughter too. It was then that I found the book Five Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth.
This book is available on Amazon at just £3.11 and with free delivery. An absolute bargain I thought at the time. The recommended age is from three years onward. This is I presume due to the plastic ladybirds, although they do seem rather sturdy within the pages. My daughter is 17 months old, though when you have two children, they will inevitably play with their older sibling's toys anyway. Nonetheless they are always well supervised when playing.
Online this book looked very attractive, though when it arrived I was a little disappointed as to its size. This is detailed under the description on Amazon, but as I have done previously, I did not read the actual size before purchasing it. The book measures 13.4 x 18.7 x 1.2cm.
Five Little Ladybugs is a board book and so is suitable for younger children who may accidentally rip the pages. The front cover is very nicely illustrated with a garden scene depicting a bird, a bumble bee and a caterpillar. Through five small holes in the book there are five plastic ladybirds peeking through. One ladybird is positioned on each page so that as each page s turned, the number of ladybirds decreases.
Despite being a board book, the pages within are a little flimsy as they are made of only thin cardboard. The cover is however very sturdy.
The ladybirds are brightly coloured, three are red, one is orange and the other is yellow. They also have a different amount and different sized spots. Good counting practice for children perhaps.
The illustrations throughout, by Laura Huliska-Beith, are again rather lovely and give the book a bright and cheerful feel. At the bottom of each page is a strip in a contrasting colour where the text is displayed. This looks a little too squashed up in my opinion.
The story is a rather basic one which has been done many times with many children's books. To begin with there are five little 'ladybugs' and one by one the number decreases as a number of different situations occur. This is a little lacking however as we are not told exactly what does happen to each ladybird. For instance we begin with 'Five little ladybugs sleeping by the shore, along came a fish and then there were four.' We have not been told where the fifth ladybird went, did he fly away, was he scared, was he even eaten?
The next page leaves us even more confused as we are told there are 'Four little ladybugs climbing up a tree, along came a turtle and then there were three.' The illustrations show the ladybirds sitting on blades of grass, not a tree. Then begs the question, what would a turtle be doing up a tree anyway?
As the story concludes, the final 'ladybug' is blown away in a breeze (at least we know what actually happened to this one!) and then he is home. The final page depicts the word 'Home!' and a scene where all of the ladybirds are playing with each of the creatures they have met throughout the book. Perhaps they all went to play then?
Five Little Ladybugs has an educational benefit of teaching young children to count back from five. Each number is displayed large and clear on the relevant page which also aids the visual recognition of numbers. The plastic ladybirds draw in the young reader and encourage them to take an interest in the story. Elements like this promote sensory awareness in very young children. As aforementioned, the spots on each little bug also make good counting practice.
It is a slight bugbear of mine that the ladybirds are called ladybugs in this book. I understand that ladybugs is a word often used, but I always prefer to use 'ladybirds' and this is what I have taught my children. I overlooked this when purchasing the book as I was drawn in by the little plastic ladybirds and simply saw it as a book that my daughter would enjoy.
My daughter does indeed enjoy this book. It has pride of place in our living room toy box and she will often fish it out and bring it to me or her daddy to read to her. She loves to feel the little bugs on each page and she is also rather taken with the illustrations, letting out the occasional squeal of excitement as she points to the creatures on each page.
Despite the pages within being rather thin, there has been no damage to it as yet, in fact not so much as a crease.
In summary this is a sweet little book. Though the concept of the story has been done many times before and often better. In particular, both the concept of the story and of the little plastic characters which decrease page by page, have been done with a very good book called Ten Chuckling Ducklings by Sally Crabtree. This book also has a sound chip to further engage young readers. Please see my earlier review of this one if it is of interest. I am however pleased that I paid such a good price for the book and most of all that my daughter enjoys it and has picked it up time and time again.