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My Granny Went to Market is a rather odd book on first inspection but it is one which my son requests with great frequency and it really seems to stimulate his imagination.
The story is simple. Granny goes to Istanbul where she purchases a magic carpet. The carpet then proceeds to take her around the world where she picks up more objects, always one more than the country before, before going to Peru where she finally relinquishes the carpet to, we assume, the grandson/daughter, to carry on the adventure.
The objects picked up in each country are appropriate to that country but barring a couple are perhaps not instantly recognisable to most toddlers. Whilst I thought that this would be an issue, in reality it's not and my son has readily come to accept and recognise the items and place them in an appropriate country.
I think what makes this book is not the concept or the text, which at times is rather clumsy, but the illustrations. They are bright, bold, intricate and packed full of discussion points. We can spot all of the items that have been purchased in the countries that we've already been to. We can immediately tell whether the country is hot or cold and what type of animals live there.
Where I thought my son would really struggle was with the concept of different countries. At 2 ½ he's comfortable with the fact that we live in a particular town and that daddy works in another one. He knows we go down a motorway to visit nanny and down two motorways to visit his cousin. But that's about it. Once it became clear that this book was a hit I went out and bought a small basic inflatable globe and we use the globe, with the book, to track Granny's progress. In the process my son can now spot several of the countries and has learned, albeit not with 100% accuracy, the concept of north, south, east and west (supplemented by left/right, up/down when the compass points fail!).
This is a good book to help children learn to count. The language and structure is perhaps not suited to early readers though - it's a book for sharing. As the child learns and grows it is the geography that will provide the interest rather than the counting. The book even goes so far as to explain a couple of linguistic points... perhaps unnecessary for the child but quite interesting as an adult!
The book is a great spring-board for imaginative thought and play and we've had many discussions about the countries, animals, objects and adventure in general. From my initial thoughts that this was a rather odd book I have grown to love it as has my son (who in fairness picked it and declared "this will be perfect").
I would say that this is suitable for children from about 3-6 years of age, boys and girls alike. Available from various sources for around £5 this is a worthy addition to any junior adventurer's collection.