* Prices may differ from that shown
PAGES: 40 (although, in reality, after the title page, dedication page, intro etc, there are about 32 'reading' pages - and those have very short copy on). There is also a version for little boys but I am reviewing the girls' version here.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? It says it's aimed at ages 1 and up. First published in 1975, it's described as a 'timeless classic'. In summary, it's about a toddler called Prudence and her mum. It introduces you to them, then introduces you to all of Prudence's body parts (including her 'pee-pee' and little bottom hole). It then goes on to describe how Prudence has always done her wees and poos into a 'diaper' until, one day, Prudence's grandma brings her a present - a potty. It then describes Prudence's adventures in trying to get to grips with using it - without putting it on her head or using it as a flowerpot!
MY VIEW: I would struggle to describe this book as a 'timeless classic'. Narnia - yes. Black Beauty - for sure. Even The Gruffalo. However, a very basic book about having a poo in a potty didn't really demonstrate any of the defining elements of a classic. Still, that's not really what parents are worried about when it comes to books about potty training. All we're worried about is whether the message is conveyed in a clear, engaging way that captures the imagination of the child we're reading it to.
Personally, I struggled with this book - for a start, be aware that it's an American book; so you have the word 'diaper' used throughout. It's not a huge issue, because you can just change it for the word nappy, but you have to remember! Prudence's mum is always referred to as her mother (never mom) so diaper is pretty much the only non UK English word. Also, you'd probably substitute the word 'pee-pee' for whatever you use to describe your little girl's bits. The other thing which niggled was the fact the nappy is depicted as an old-fashioned one with a safety pin. If, like me, you're a mum who unashamedly uses disposable nappies, this depiction will differ from your child's vision of a nappy. Although, to be fair, it's probably something we as adults would notice more than a 2 year old.
My main issue with this book was how the potty was depicted. It was like a big, white ceramic urn, more akin to something you'd see in Ancient Greece than a modern-day bathroom. If I'd gone down to my local gardening center to pick up a potty for my child, it would be a fantastic representation - as it is, it does actually look like it's achieved its best use when the author shows it as a flowerpot. It's incredibly large compared to Prudence and doesn't look at all inviting to sit on. Again, however, perhaps this is an adult perspective which rails against it. My little girl hasn't said anything about it - but she might be thinking that she wouldn't sit on something which looks like that!
My final criticism of the book is, simply, that the whole potty saga has been done better by subsequent authors. My favourite is still Princess Polly's Potty, which my daughter loves. Once Upon a Potty doesn't really deal with the things I'd like to see included (and which are included in Princess Polly's book), such as choosing a pair of knickers, choosing a potty etc. More modern books simply seem more geared towards those elements of potty training which parents are told can help - like the excitement of being a 'big girl' and choosing some pretty knickers etc. But what does the harshest critic (my 2 year old) think of it? Well, she quite likes it - but I think that's more because there's a little girl in it. She certainly doesn't engage with the potty training elements as much as she does when I read her Princess Polly's potty book though.
CONCLUSION: A pretty basic book with some odd elements which stopped it being truly useful for me - the same thing has been done in better ways.
This isn't really about a learning toy as such but a learning book. My daughter has just turned two and it's come to that dreaded potty training time. My daughter is ready for potty training and I bought her a potty but she decided that she hated her potty and that there was no way she was going to go in her potty. Thinking of other ways of encouraging her I decided to buy a potty training book and hunting high and low locally the only stockist of such books were ELC and they were out of stock. Finally I found a good selection through Amazon on the internet and bought a book called 'Once Upon A Potty' by Alona Frankel, this book comes in two forms one for girls and one for boys. The girls book features a little girl called Prudence and basically explains how she has always worn a nappy but then recives a potty and feels proud and excited when she goes in her potty. I recieved this book this morning and my daughter loved it, it's bright and cheerful and my daughter used her potty for the first time today. The only downside to this book is that it calls nappies 'diapers' but obviously you submit the words your child knows when reading it. A great introduction to potty training.