“ Author: Rev Awdry / Publisher: Phidal „
My son received this as a gift from his cousin and we both love it. The 'book' is more of a box with a few board pages of rhymes about different engines from the series. At the back a playmat is folded inside with 12 character figures to play with.
The characters in the set include Thomas, Annie & Clarabelle, Percy, James, Harold the helicopter and Bertie the bus. Although the trains are quite small they are the perfect size for playing on the mat. The wheels don't move but they slide nicely along the play mat. The play mat folds out to be quite large with lots of tracks, engine sheds and roads to play on. It is made of paper so is easy to fold back up into the box.
My two- and four-year old boys haven't paid much attention to the book part but really enjoy playing with the characters and mat. It keeps them entertained for ages, whether they are playing together or on their own. I love the fact that this toy makes them use their imaginations as they role play with the characters and in a house full of noisy toys, this one is lovely and quiet! The size of the set is around A4 so its great for taking with them if they're staying over at their grandparents' or going on holiday. The box says it is suitable for ages 3+ I presume because the trains are quite small but my 2 year old also gets lots of enjoyment from this (he isn't one to put things in his mouth).
As a mother to 2 hard core Thomas fans I was running out of things to buy that didn't break the bank.
I had heard a few people talking about busy books in passing and when I saw this one in my local Asda I knew I had to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did.
This has been played with constantly for the last 3 weeks. The 12 figurines are fairly small but are the perfect size to help with a young childs gross motor skills and fit perfectly on to the play mat. The 'Book' design also means that it is easy to pack away (a children's toy that actually goes back into the intended box, what a novelty) and easy to transport.
There are a few downsides to this product and it may just be me being a bit nit picky but I feel that they need addressing. Firstly the mat, unfortunately it is essentially paper, while it does have a plastic coating on one side it is still very flimsy and the corners fold easily. Ours now has a few holes forming in the middle, possibly from over use. Also it comes with a Harold the helicopter figure that in under an hour was broken, the propeller snapped clean off. Another small issue is that the story to accompany the mat and figurines is not the best and my 2 Thomas fans found it rather boring as it is more a selection of short poems.
I would still buy this product again and have since brought 2 other titles in this series, I also have my eye on a few more if I can actually track them down in a store.
Thomas and friends my busy book in my eyes is a fantastic little product. I hadn't seen them before but when my eldest son received one for his third birthday I was quite impressed and since then I have bought a few for other children's birthday's. The package includes a board book story, 12 figurines and a large plastic play mat.
There are two parts to this lovely book/toy which is combined together. The whole product measures roughly 25.5cms by 20cms and 4cms in depth so could easily fit on a bookshelf when not in use which is where we keep ours. The front of the busy book opens like a book the pages are made from very strong board which have stood the test of time in our house. We have had this book for two years now and it still gets a lot of play. There are ten pages in total which as well as fantastic large, colourful pictures of the characters it also has a rhyming tale. The large pictures of Thomas and his friends really stand out from every page and on first opening the book this is what amazed my son. Each page has a different engine on it and the rhyming text not only tells you a story but tells you a bit about that engine as we all know from the television program they all have very different characteristics! 'Edward chuffs happily along the track To Knapton station and then back. Whirring and whizzing over the rails, He's wise and friendly without fail!'
The real adventure begins at the back of the book were your child can bring their own story alive. There is a large plastic map and 12 figurines. The map is held in the top compartment and the 12 figurines in two compartments below. The plastic map measures roughly 91cms by 60.5cms and although is quite thin is still in great condition after two years of play. The back of the map is just white it is the over side Sodar comes alive on! The map is lovely and bright and my son's eyes lit up when he first saw it. There are plenty of familiar features on it and plenty of green grass. The colours are lovely and vibrate making it very appealing. Tidmouth sheds and the Sodar junction are two of the familiar features on the map. The train tracks on the map run in all different directions across it and there are also a couple of roads that cross over the track. As well as the track and roads there is also a tunnel pictured on the map and plenty of signal points too. The whole map has plenty of things on it.
The 12 figurines included in this board book are great. They are quite small so this should be taken into consideration when buying the product. There are small plastic figurines. But although they are very small they are full of detail with all the markings that each train has. Even the faces of the characters are present. The miniature trains measure roughly between 4cms and the largest of the 12 6cms. The 12 include favourites Thomas, Gordon, James, Toby and Harold. They are the perfect size to position on the map.
The story part of this book was enjoyed to begin with but as my son has got older he has out grown it. He likes more complex stories and this one is quite short and simple and very much suited to the recommended age of three years for this product. I found it great to read as I do any rhyming text. I find rhyming text flows off the tongue with ease and is enjoyable to read out loud. The text does describe the characteristics of the trains so does use some nice descriptive words. If it was just the book you were buying I would say it was too expensive and not worth the money but it is the play opportunities you pay for here. I have seen this busy book in a few places like Asda, The Works etc and it always seems to sell at the £5 mark. The back of this board book opens up a whole load of fun and gets your child to explore their own imaginations and create a story of their own. From the moment my son opened this product he was overjoyed with what it had to offer. To start with he was a little obsessed with the map and little trains; he has always been a bit train mad. He liked to set the map up on the floor or on the table. It isn't that big that he struggles to lean across it to play so it can be played with nicely at a table. He does have a large wooden train set now which I must admit he prefers what child wouldn't but this still sees play time as the train set is large and takes up a lot of room so isn't always out. My younger son who is nearly 4 also gets a lot of enjoyment out of this set. I find he seems to play with it more often than my older son now. Maybe my elder son has run out of imaginative stories now or at 5 years old is getting too old and cool for it! As well as an excellent thing to play with at home at the table it also makes a great thing to take on the move with you. As it closes up into a book it is all contained into a good size package. We have taken this with us on numerous journeys obviously not something you can play with in the car but once you reach your destination it is a great book/toy to have with you. It is always one of a few things my son's take with them on family visits to keep them amused and always gets the thumbs up from people who haven't seen it before.
**What is a busy book?**
In our house we love busy books. I had never come across them until my grandma decided to take my children to the works to let them chose what they wanted to buy with the Christmas money. While we were looking around somehow my three year old son managed to notice this busy book which was located on the very top of the shelf. At first we thought it was just a standard book, but after a sale assistant pulled it down we found this little gem. So what is a busy book I hear you ask? It is a book with a difference. In the back of the 'book' are a play mat and small little Thomas engines. The idea is simple, read the book, and then uses the play mat with the engines to re create the scenes. It was such a huge hit with my children, and now we own a number of the different variations including Disney fairies, Disney cars and toy story.
The story book is more like a fact book. Rather than telling a story it tells us about each engine in turn, and what they like to do. There are very few words in this 'book' and to be honest I wouldn't really class it as one, more like a play set. In this set you receive a hard back storage case which doubles as the book. When you turn to the very last page you will find a little compartment split into three areas, one which has a folded play mat inside. This play mat is designed on the Island of sodor, it pictures the tidmouth sheds along with a number of line choices for little one to take to make deliveries. There are a number of details printed on this mat each one recognisable instantly to any Thomas fan. The mat is laminated, but very thinly so it is still able to be folded up to be stored in the back of the book. The mat is large so you will need a large area to lay it down, and my son was amazed with his find.
In this set you also receive 12 small engines. They real are tiny, and I was a little worried as we had younger children in the house they could easily be swallowed. For this reason I had to make sure the set was always packed away and kept out of reach, as they could easily be swallowed by younger children so please do stick to the age recommendation of three years. The little engines are made from durable plastic, they are detailed well but because of the size of them there are parts that are not perfectly formed. This does not affect play at all, and they are still instantly recognisable. The engines you receive are all the main characters; it includes Thomas Percy, Gordon and Harold along with many more of the famous engines.
Once we got back to my grandma's house my son opened this set straight away. It has a plastic casing to contain the pieces in the back of the book, and I do need to open and close this for my son. Now he is a little older he can do this by himself and he really enjoys packing the pieces away after each time he is finished, it really is part of the fun! There are 12 different engines in the pack, and it does include a Harold that can be sat on the helicopter pad. If your child is a fan of Thomas they are sure to find their favourite engine featured as it includes both the well known engines, and some that only appear in a small amount of episodes.
The engines do not have movable parts, so the wheels do not move at all, and I did wonder what fun could be have if they were just little pieces of plastic. My son found they glided along the laminated mat with ease, but he does need to push them for them to move rather than them being free moving. The great thing is as there are no movable parts there is nothing that can break off, and even after two years of use we have around 8 of the little engines left. They are small but I found my son could hold them very easily in his hand to move them across the mat. My son loves this set, and he plays with it in so many different ways. He uses the engines to make deliveries on all the different lines. He puts the engines to bed in their shed, and generally just runs the engines around the track. No matter how much he plays with this set he gets excited each and every time he plays with it. He does use his take and play engines on this mat, as well as the plastic figures provided. They glide across very easily, and although they are a little bigger than the train lines printed on the set, the mat is big enough for him to play with them easily. The best thing about it is that it can be played with anywhere. By using the book as a storage unit this means it can be easily picked up, and taken wherever he wishes it to go. It is very durable despite the mat being folded over, and over again. The small engines are also very durable, although we have lost a number of them as they are just so small that they tend to be lost very easily while we are out or trodden on and snap. In general play they are fine, and last very well but they are just a little small.
We absolutely love this book, and I would recommend any of them in the range. We find that they provide hours of fun, and two years down the line my son absolutely loves it. It is easy to transport, and although we have lost a number of the pieces as they are so small we find there is enough to keep little one happy. The simple play mat and pieces of plastic are one of my children's most loved toys out of the many they have. We paid £6 for our Thomas one, but I have purchased other character options in Asda for £5. This is a fantastic toy that is a little unusual so if you come across them I would grab one you will not be disappointed. I have still give this 5 stars even with the engines being so small, because of the pure enjoyment my son recieves from this set.
I came across this "busy book" one day in TK Maxx as my 3 year old wanted to have a treat after going round the shops all day, I was not quite sure what it was, but as it had Thomas on it, we felt it would be worth a try.
When we got it home he was quite excited to play with it. Upon opening the book, you see a folded up playmat and 2 sections which include a total of 12 small Thomas engines. There are all the main well known engines (thomas, edward, henry, gordon, james etc) as well as Harold the Helicopter, and Annie and Clarabel (Thomas' coaches.)
The mat is made of a laminated thick paper which is quite thin, but it has to be in order to fold up and be stored away neatly in the back of the book. I have to admit I wondered how long this mat would last without getting torn but it has done well so far and we have had it a few months now. I would not give it to very young children, of under 2 years as it would be likely to get ruined but for my 3 year old it was absolutely fine and I have let my 2-and-a-few-months play with it too and he has also kept it in good condition.
I believe the set is not recommended for under 3 years because of small parts, which will be because the engines are quite small and again, although I feel my 2 year old is okay with it I would not be happy with a younger toddler playing with these as they could easily go in their mouth and they are quite small (i would say they are a couple of centimetres long per engine)
There are a few pages of rhymes at the front of the book, each one is about a different engine (or harold the helicopter) and have 4 lines of rhyming verse. However my boys have totally ignored that and just gone for the playmat and figures, which they have really enjoyed. Personally I did find the book side of it really weak, as they would prefer a proper story to these rhymes. The rhymes seem more suited to a younger toddler, and the playset side of it is better for the slightly older toddler or preschooler as I mentioned so in my opinion that is a little bit mismatched.
However regardless of that, I was really happy with this product as it is something quite different and it would be a very portable playset. I like that so many characters are included so that gives the child a lot of scope for playing with it, without getting bored as they can make more elaborate stories.
The price for this on Amazon is currently 12.99 but I'm sure I only paid about 6 or 7 pounds in tk maxx, which was an excellent price for this.
After buying this I had a look whether I could see anything similar for different characters eg Waybuloo, Night Garden but I did not seem to find anything, but if I do come across any others I would probably get it as it is a very handy idea especially as it stores away so neatly in the book. I keep it a bit high up on a shelf so every time I get this book down, the children are excited to have a play with it.
Would recommend it for any fan of Thomas over 2 years, and may be a good one for travelling with.
Given 4 stars just because the book side is lacking, and it is marketed as a book!
Thomas and Friends is a popular television show which follows a group of engines who live on the Island of Sodor.
*~*Thomas and Friends : My Busy Books...*~*
This activity book is part of a character book range produced by Phidal and based on the Railway Series of books by Rev. W. Awdry. The book features 12 pages and the ISBN is 978-2-7643-1800-3. This book is suitable for children over the age of 3 years due to small pieces which could potentially be a choking hazzard.
My Busy Books isn't a normal book. The entire book measures 25.1 x 19.6 x 4.3 cm. The 'book' has a hardcover and pages. There is a 'box' at the back of the book which is split into 3 sections. Basically, you get a story book and to add something extra to this book, there is also a play mat and 12 character figures.
The play mat measures approx 90 x 60 cm and is made from a shiny paper. It can be folded down to be put back in the box. The character figures are a few cm each and made from plastic or resin (not sure which). The figures include Thomas, Harold the Helicopter, Bertie Bus and a few other engines and carriages.
*~*Price and Availability...*~*
This activity book can be bought from Amazon UK for £11.45. It can be bought for £10.99 from www.applegreenbooks.co.uk. It is priced at £11.99 on eBay.
*~*Peep Peep - Boo Coming Through...*~*
My son loves Thomas and Friends. When he received this activity book at Christmas, we thought it was just a really big book! It is chunky and sturdy but not too heavy. Once he had opened his other lovely presents, we decided to explore this book and he was amazed by what he found. It quickly became a favourite as it is more special than many of the books that he owns.
This book is fully coloured throughout and features full-page pictures of the engines. The front cover shows a smiley looking Thomas the Tank and this paves the way for an adventure. All the recognisable engines are discussed in this book - Thomas, Percy, Gordon. Even Harold is there and my son adores Harold even though he rarely appears in books. Each page shows a bright engine with beautiful scenery in the background. Each page has a rhyming story - something simple and easy to read with or to your child. My son has already memorised each rhyme. One which we found fun to read..
'Harold the helicopter flies up high,
Whirring through the Sodor sky,
His engine friends toot their hellos
To the kind-hearted chopper from below'
The book is fun to read through but not exactly a story. My son likes me to put on the voices of the different engines for 'variation'. We occasionally read the book together but my son prefers to get straight in to the activity side of the book...and who wouldn't want to!
*~*Peep Peep..Time To Play...*~*
The mat is quite big and does require a decent amount of floor space. The paper is quite thin but I suppose if it had been made of card, it wouldn't have folded down so easily for storage. Being so thin, it does crease and curl up. My son is 3 and quite heavy handed so there are a few tears along the border of the mat. The mat is extremely colourful and imaginative. It features a large area of Sodor showing Tidmouth Sheds, the bridge, various houses, a pond and the Sodor junction. There is a helicopter pad for Harold as well.
The mat is very illustrative and features a huge railway line and also a small bit of road for Bertie Bus to work on. The mat is big enough for 2 toddlers to play on at the same time without bumping into each other. Our mat has been used regularly but my son also has a similar cardboard one which he likes too. The little figures are the perfect size for a toddler to use. They are also the perfect size to be accidently lost. I have always ensured Boo puts the figures back in the box after using them (there are 2 small sections which are the perfect size to store them all) yet we have still managed to lose a few - I'm sure I will locate them in a toy box soon enough!
The figures are quite tough and feel well made so can withstand rough play - very solid.. They are distinctive to reflect the actual characters in the show. The brown carriages (troublesome trucks) cannot be joined on to the main engines (Percy etc). The figures do not feature wheels or anything so need to be moved by hand. The detailing on each figure is really good and attention has been paid to ensure they look attractive. They are colourful and have all the relevant features as you would expect in the show.
My son (and sometimes my nephew) have fun arranging the different figures on the play mat. I do think that the mat is perhaps a bit large for such small figures. My son clearly had that though too as he brings out his regular, larger engines to use on the mat too. They are a little bit bigger than the tracks on this mat but he still has fun moving them around. He lets his imagination run wild and creates lots of scenarios on his play mat. He can play for quite a while and never tires of moving the figures around his mat and making up stories as he does so. Even Mummy is allowed to play too!
*~*Peep Peep..Off On An Adventure...*~*
Because every part of this set can be stored within the box, it can be transported easily. At my parents home, they do not have many toys suitable for playing with indoors (it's all bikes, chutes and balls etc). Whenever we visit, we can take this with us and my Dad and Boo can have fun 'on the tracks'. It is great for taking to Grandparents homes as well as it is so portable and fun. You couldn't really carry a big train set in your bag now, could you? My son can set the set up himself and knows how to put it all away himself.
*~*Peep Peep..Time To Go...*~*
Both myself and Boo can fully recommend this activity book/set. It is very affordable, offers hours of fun play and is well loved. I think it would make a lovely gift for a Thomas fan and it was certainly well received by my son.
4 stars - 1 star off for the mat being torn so quickly!
Thanks for reading :)