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It's easy to think of touch and feel books as being just for babies. They are grand for babies, and I feel this book would has a few extra features which would make it even more appealing to an infant, but my sons still enjoy this at ages 4 and 7 - although not quite as much as thier other tactile books. Many children love to feel different textures, and while the story would be to simple for most children this age, they still use this book primarily because they enjoy feeling the different textures. This book really doesn't have as many textures as Usborne's That's Not My.... series but it also has the added feature of google eyes - which for some reason my boys have always liked,and eye holes which means we can hold this over our face, make dragons sounds and generally act silly.
This book has only ten pages and five dragon pictures + the cover. The cover also has lovely sparkly wings. The first texture is very good a soft and smooth egg shell with a baby dragon popping out. The next page has a large dragon with a rippled paper nose. This is the same type of paper used in the older "That's Not My... series, but Usborne has replaced this with a more durable material in newer books. The next page is a large green dragon with very soft velvet spikes. This is very nice, but again not the same quality as Usborne. As long as it is only handled with clean hands you should be fine, but I don't think this could be wiped off and I have literally washed a stack of used Usborne touch feely books. The next dragon has only sparkles glued over his flame as a texture, and the final dragon has no texture at all.
The text for this book is passable, it isn't great but it does have rhyme. The dragons are all very colourful and friendly looking and the text reflects this. It is not a story by any twist of the imagination, but a gentle rhyming text, cute pictures with fun google eyes peeking through and nice textures to touch.
Surprisingly, the blurb on the back of this book recommends this book for ages 3+ - foundation age. Looking at this book with its black and white patterned border, bright colours and peek a boo eye slots I would certainly have assumed this book was designed for babies. While my sons have only had this book 2 years, placing the youngest at two when this was purchased, and they have really enjoyed it, I feel this book would best suits ages 3 months +, not 3 years+.
However there is a safety issue involved in this product, and I feel this is the reason for the higher age range. All of the books in this series (Funny Faces) were originally made with a sound feature. I have found the wee sensor on the last page, so it must only play a sound when the last page is opened. Our copy however was used, and this feature never worked. Apparently it was defective as there are a large number of reviews for books in this series mentioning the sound never worked or only worked for a few days and replacements did not perform any better. This isn't a major issue to me, we are quite good at creating our own sound effects - but other reviews have mentioned that if the book is torn the button batteries can easily be removed and the back label of the book does state "CHOKING HAZARD - small parts. Not Suitable for children under 3 years". This doesn't tell you the whole truth though - button batteries are more than a choking hazard. Accidental ingestion of a button battery should be treated as a poisoning case. The chemicals can leak out and do severe damages, including death. I'm afraid my sons enjoy this book too much for me to rip up the back page to verify the claims that the button batteries are in fact the small parts that constitute a choking hazard - but I really don't fell that I need to. I can feel where the heavy board has been cut away to hold the electronics department and this is only covered with paper. Tis is quite thin and you can feel all of the bits and pieces. I could very easily punch through it - in fact I am afraid to press to hard in case I do this by accident. A child could easily have this open in seconds. I have also found a more than one review complaining of children being able to access the batteries or simply saying that you can easily pull the cover up to get to them.
Despite the safety issue, I would still be very happy to purchase this book myself as a baby book - I just wouldn't leave the child alone with it for a single second. As long as parent is right there reading the book, helping the child feel the textures and making silly faces, I feel this would be quite safe. But since children's books are often resold when children out grown them, and with the sound feature only lasting a very short time many parents may not realise button batteries are in this book - much less that they are not well secured. I firmly believe the batteries should have been in a plastic case accessible only with a screw driver, not a cut out hole covered with paper. There really just isn't any excuse for this. I also believe "Contains button batteries" should be clearly printed on the book. In all honesty I did not realise this was meant to make sounds or contain batteries until considering the purchase of another copy as a gift. I was considering another copy of this book as a baby gift, but realising the potential danger if left in a child's reach - I will stick with the That's Not My .... series.
If you are willing to keep this book well out of reach, only bringing it down for stories this may be an excellent choice to engage an infant with books. I have found that babies love things you peek through and this book is not without value. But basically - tis book needs to be treated with same caution as a bottle of medicine - always kept out of reach. If bought for a child who definitely old enough not to put anything in their mouth - it can also be fun for silly games and just to enjoy the textures - but I feel Usborne is far better value for money. I have found Usborne books are also very useful for beginning to read. This book would not be suitable for new readers, it is only suitable as a read a loud book. The only advantage this has over Usborne id the eye holes, in every othr area it comes up short - and Usborne costs less.
My children do enjoy this, they have fun with eye holes, google eyes and textures, and I have got my money's worth as I only paid one pound for this from a charity shop. I do feel the negatives outweigh the positives on this book. This particular book is not in stock new at the moment but you can buy it used directly from Amazon at £2.81. However I really can't recommend this used unless you can see the book before buying as the touch and feel parts could easily be damaged. New books in this series sell for £6.45 which I would consider fair if not for the safety issues as I do feel the eye slots make this especially attractive to infants. I most certainly would not consider paying £6.45, or even £2.81 for a child over 3 or even 2 though, and would advise an Usborne book instead.
I am really in a quandary as to how many stars to give this. I do feel it would still be a very good book to share with an infant but it is sold only for older children. It is still some fun for an older child, but not worth paying more than a pound or two for. Giving this to an older child raises other issues though. An older child could easily forget and leave this within reach of a younger sibling. Because I feel the safety issue is so serious, and that adequate warning is not given, I really can not give this more than 1 star. If it were reprinted though, and the electronics part completely done away with - I would give this 5 stars, and all the more so if the money saved in removing the electronics was used to improve the touch and feel aspects. I think they tried to do too much here and less would certainly have been a better choice.