My daughter loves reading books, and she loves it even more when she gets to interact with the story. We received Once Upon A Time by Nick Sharratt last year as a birthday present for my daughter's third birthday and it's been a favourite ever since.
Available in both paperback and hardback, we have the hardback version and to be honest I think this is the best option for this book.
The story is based on a princess within her own fairytale. The story will change every time you read this book as the child gets to choose the path the princess takes within her fairytale.
In the front of the book you will find 36 different cardboard cut out pictures, each with a little tab on the bottom. These are first places against the correct silhouette on the correct pages within the book, which are then used to tell the story.
The cut out pieces are not very thick and therefore can be bent quite easily. I think because of this then the book really isn't suitable for young children however entertaining it is.
Once the cut out pieces are assembled in their pages, then the book can begin. We start with meeting the princess and learning that she lives on top of a hill. But what does she live in at the top of the hill? You can choose from a house, castle, caravan, tree house, tent, or teapot.
It's up to the child to choose where the princess will live during this version of the story and then the cardboard cut out is removed from its silhouette home on the side of the page and placed into the slot provided in the story.
The pages within the book are designed to show as a double page per section. This makes plenty of room for the cut outs to sit on the side of the page, and also leaves plenty of room for the bright illustrated pictures on the pages themselves.
We found that as our version is a hardback, then there is quite a lot of support against each page of the book. The pages are also made out of cardboard and are double sided to provide a space created for the cut out to be slotted into.
The pages are well made and I think would withstand a lot of pressure before they were ripped which is good. We did find each slot was designed well enough for us not to battle with placing the slot within the pages.
The story itself is quite short with only seven double pages, so from a parent's perspective this is a good book to read when short of time, but I also think it provides enjoyment for the child which is a win win situation for all when time is tight.
With a perfect happy ending when the princess marries her prince (or sometimes a frog) then this is a truly traditional (in some versions) fairy tale.
Price: £4.29 Amazon
At work the other day, the girl I look after was so excited to show me a new book she had been given, entitled 'Once upon a time...' By Nick Sharratt. Intrigued to see why she was so excited I first read the back.
"Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess, but where did she live? What kind of pet did she have? What did she wish for?"
Not getting a great deal from this I looked inside, the girl showed me it all 16 pages with bright coloured illustrations. On 6 of these double pages there is an area where 6 different cut-outs sit, so basically you can choose which one you want and make the story your own, confused! Let me tell you what the first few pages say and what you can choose.
~Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess.
~She lived on top of a hill in a *
* Now you can choose from House, Caravan, Castle, Tree House, Tent or Teapot. (Each cut-out picture has the name printed on it to assist with reading.)
You remove the chosen picture from the storage area and insert it into the small slit at the top of the hill.
~She lived all by herself except for Fred her pet *
Choose from Goldfish, Bat, Dragon, Octopus, Dog and Rabbit.
And so the story continues, I could tell you how the story goes to the end, but that's something I don't want to spoil for you, even though you choose the story yourself.
With 46656 different combinations to choose from this really is many stories in one. The girl I look after will soon be 7 and she loves it, I think girls as young as 4 or 5 could enjoy this just as much, especially as it is all about princesses too. Girls who are 8 or over may find it a bit young for them, and may prefer a longer story, as this is fairly short.
This book would make an ideal present, and would take a while to get bored of it. It is a great book for any child with an imagination, or anyone who needs help in developing this or learning how to make decisions. Hand-eye coordination is developed throughout this book, not only from turning the pages, but placing the chosen object in the allotted slot on the page, then moving the piece back to the correct place.
The pictures are bold and very colourful, they are also simply drawn, so could be copied, the girl I look after loves drawing and has copied some of the pictures easily to use in her own stories. Such a simple idea, which I have never come across before, which can also be expanded on, by encouraging the child to draw their own pictures for the story.
My one negative about this type of story is that it is easy to lose a piece, and what are the chances of losing the piece you like the most and love to use all the time!! Although you can store all the pieces in a pouch on the front page, they can fall out, so I suggest using a bag to store them in whilst not in use.
A hardback book published by Walker Books in 2002
Walker Books Ltd
87 Vauxhall Walk
Nicola xx 09/07/08