“ Genre: Junior Books / Author: Eric Hill / Paperback / 8 Pages / Book is published 2004-10-07 by Frederick Warne Publishers Ltd „
Most people I am sure, know the books about 'Spot' the dog, and his friends. They have been around for years, although with so many new character books coming onto the market, they may not get the attention that they deserve in the childrens bookshelves.
Anyhow, although I usually hunt around in charity shops for children's books that I can use in school, for once, I actually bought this brand new in TK Maxx for £4.99, although you can get it much cheaper if you buy through amazon sellers.
Rather than simply a book, this is actually a 'Pop up and Play book'. Inside the book, there are cardboard cut outs of Spot and some of his friends (Helen the hippo, Steve the monkey/chimp, and Tom and alligator) as well as a whole host of items that a child would find in a playschool/foundation stage classroom such as: crayons, bucket and spade, building blocks, paint brushes, toys, balls, and some dressing up wigs. The four character cut outs have edges that can be folded back allowing them to stand by themselves.
Once children have finished playing with the cut outs, there is a very useful pocket, in the shape of a schoolbag satchel, to keep the cardboard pieces safe until another day.
The first two pages of the book introduce children to Spot's school, and some of the things that they do eg. They sing a song with their teacher, have some show and tell time, dress up, go on the climbing frame and do some painting.
The main crux of the book is the pop up play area that children can actually use the cardboard cut outs in.
The first page that pops out is that of an outside play area. This area included a sandpit (where children can put the characters, the bucket and spade and some shell cut outs), a climbing frame (for Steve the monkey to swing on) and some arrow pull outs to change the weather from cloudy to sunny.
The next page then pops up to let children play at the entrance the the school - there is a little rabbit hutch and children can scatter some of the cardboard leaves to create an Autumn scene in the school yard.
Following this is a pop up page devoted to the play area in the school. Children can put the cardboard characters inside the wendy house, or simply put out some of the cardboard toys that come with the book, and have the characters play with these. Children can also put on different cardboard wigs onto the characters as part of this play time. There is also a moveable clock, for children to change to show the start of school and home time.
The final page shows the inside of the classroom. The teacher is at the piano, and children can pull the arrow in and out to make it look like she is actually playing it. Children can lift the flaps to open windows and cupboards, and in the middle of the pup up room, is a painting easel where children can place all of the art cut outs that came with the book.
All in all, I quite liked this book, and it is particularly useful with pre schoolers, even as a good way of introducing school/playschool to them. I do however have a few criticisms.
Firstly, the pop up pages will not stay open by themselves, and children either have to lean on them to keep them open, so they can actually play, or I have to set something slightly heavy on them. This is quite a flaw.
Secondly, the scenes inside the pop up pages are all made from cardboard, making it easier to fold back into the book, however, these are so easily ripped, as are the cardboard cut outs. Now, if this is aimed at young children, unless you are watching them like a hawk, the cut outs or cardboard scenes will be damaged in no time. Therefore, it is only really useful as a book for sharing with a child, and playing with them, not really for allowing them to play by themselves, unless they are tremendously careful, which few children often are.
Thirdly, I recognise that the main focus of the book is the pop up play element, however, I do think there should have been more story in between these pop up pages. Apart from the intial two pages, there is no more text. So it is certainly not a book for encouraging a love of stories.
To conclude, the idea itself is good and young children do enjoy playing with it, however, I feel that is is far too fragile to let them loose on it by themselves, it lacks story content, and will not stay popped out by itself. Unlike most books that can withstand wear and tear which most children inflict on them, I just cannot bear to watch the cardboard getting tore, which can happen so easily, just by a child being a child. Due to these flaws, I'm afraid that this is a book, despite me being a 'Spot' fan, that remains on my shelf.