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P-p-p-pick up a penguin
That's Not My Penguin - Fiona Watt
Member Name: sandemp
That's Not My Penguin - Fiona Watt
Advantages: Lots of textures to explore, lovely pictures, Freddy loves it
Disadvantages: Can become mind-numbing for parents after the 20th read through
As a real bookworm myself, I've tried to pass on my love of the written word to 20 month old Freddy and as well as toys have bought him many books for birthdays, Christmas or no real at all. One of the books I bought for Freddy as a stocking filler last Christmas is "That's Not My Penguin", a touchy-feely board book written by Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells and published by Usborne. There are countless titles in this range covering many everyday (and not so everyday) topics including trains, teddies and cars, all of which follow the same format. These board books are brilliant for babies an young toddlers, at approximately six inches square they are a good size for them hold. The lightly laminated pages are resistant to dribble and being made of thick board they are tough enough to withstand almost anything a toddler can throw at it.
There isn't really a story as such, more a succession of different penguins, each of which features a different texture to explore along with a reason why it isn't our penguin until we get to the final page where we eventually do find our penguin. To be honest, it's not the most interesting book for an adult to read and there have been a few occasions when I've wished this book was as strictly seasonal as "That's Not My Santa" so I could look forward to putting it away when Christmas is over. But the pleasure Freddy gets from the simple repetition more than makes up for the mind-numbing effect it has on me.
At 20 months old, Freddy is perfectly capable of deciding which book he wants to read and whether he wants to sit and read it alone or have it read to him. That's Not My penguin seems to be the favourite of the moment and a book that Freddy will spend a good ten minutes looking through and one that he'll bring to me to read to him at least once a day. When he reads the book on his own he can be observed closely examining the bright, simple illustrations and exploring the touchy-feely aspect. The pages are the perfect size and thickness for him to turn and the book has survived his slightly rough handling with the only damage being a few creases down the spine.
While I love that Freddy loves to sit and read this book on his own, (it's really sweet to find him sitting on his bedroom floor reading), we also love to share this book. (Although Freddy may enjoy this a little more than me on those days when he wants it read to him four or five times in succession). When Freddy first received the book he needed a lot of help when reading it, with me pointing out the touchy-feely parts but now he knows exactly where everything is.
What we love about this book is that even before we turn the first page we are treated with a penguin with a fuzzy tummy to feel and then right through the book we are treated to a good variety of different textures, from velvety wings, to silky heads, to shiny beaks, to rubbery feet. Then on the last page we finally find our penguin with it's fluffy baby. Freddy absolutely loves this baby penguin and fair coos over it (which is really sweet to watch). Another thing I like is that each penguin is different and different breeds are represented, not that I know the names of all the breeds are. I also like that all the penguins are doing different things, one is sliding along the snow on it's tummy, while another is swimming, which gives us something else to talk about. The backgrounds are very simple though and don't give us much to talk about, but there is another level to the book in the form of a little mouse that is hiding (in plain sight) and I can ask Freddy to look for it.
While there's no way I would turn reading into a chore, as with all books this is helping prepare the way for Freddy to learn and love to read. The repetition of "That's Not My Penguin" will help him steadily learn that those squiggles are actually words, while the different textures help to increase his vocabulary and put words to what he is feeling. We've also been using this book to actually talk about penguins along with watching films such as Happy Feet and the latest BBC documentary, Frozen Planet and we're going to see some real life penguins at the zoo tomorrow.
This is a lovely book from a lovely series, one that Freddy loves and will either read or ask to be read several times a day. An ideal stocking filler, it's a book that can be read throughout the year and yet feels a little Christmassy due to the snow. I really can't recommend this book enough for babies and toddlers up to about the age of three or four and both Freddy and I agree that it's definitely worth five stars out of five even at full price of £5.99, never mind at the £3.29 Amazon is asking (including delivery).
Summary: A great stocking filler for any baby or toddler