“ Hardcover / Publisher: Parragon Book Service Ltd / Published: 1 Jun 2010 „
What's That Noise? is a children's pop-up book written by Justine Smith with illustrations by Joanne Hulbert. The book is bound in lovely thick cardboard and is roughly 11 inches square in size. The blurb on the back promises a "bright introduction to first words".
First words may be a slightly generous term. If What's That Noise? teaches anything, it is onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is usually reserved for animal noises (cheep cheep, baa baa, oink oink - to name but a few of my personal favourites) but in this case, the onomatopoeia is of various vehicles. These are phrased as questions.
To give an example from Page 1:
What's that noise?
Brmm-brrm! At the racetrack... a red racing car speeds along!
On the same page is also a pop up of a large photograph of a racing car. In this format, the books contains a tractor at a farm-yard, a lorry on a busy road, a train on the tracks, a plane in the sky and a boat on the water, along with the associated onomatopoeia. I like that the book twinned the vehicle with the situation it would be used in. So far, so conventional.
The illustrations are combination of photographs (the pop-up) while the surroundings are rather crude, but effective, digital drawings. In the illustrations there are also included various animals - such as a mole in the field and birds on the fence of the train tracks. This is a nice touch, as my niece likes animals, and these are drawn anthropomorphous to look cute and accessible. The colours are bright - but mostly primary colours with the odd secondary colour thrown in. This does ensure the pictures are bright, but they are also oddly boring as well. My niece and I like to go through the colours, and this didn't give us much variety.
The pages are made from card, just a hair's breadth thicker than paper, which is glossy. The pop ups are made from this same material. Perhaps this is the reason why the pop up parts are so stiff to open. They are quite large, almost the height of the book again - though they do not contain any text. My niece can probably open the pop-ups herself, but to avoid tearing the paper, I tend to open it up for her and then she closes it back down when she is finished looking.
We enjoy reading the book together, especially the onomatopoeia parts. The font used is large and slightly rough looking, more like handwriting than font. The text parts run over the image, which isn't recommended for dyslexic readers. At six pages long, even with pop-up parts, it it is a quick read.
Considering that, it is almost impossible to justify the RRP of £3.99. However, as we bought ours reduced at 11 pence, it is more than affordable. What can you buy instead? A fifth of a stamp?
Like many books, the recommended age is 3+, but this is down to small parts rather than reading comprehension. I would say this is good from 6 months, obviously with adult supervision. My niece is getting on for 20 months and is rapidly becoming bored with this book, though she still likes making me say "Honk Honk".
It is a decent introduction to forming questions and using question marks, though it does not contain the other 4 Ws and 1 H (where, who, when, when, and how). For an older child, however, this book will probably not hold their attention for very long. Some traditionalists may consider this as a book for boys (as it has various "boys' toys" in it), but that's a bit silly really, and even girls ought to know what noise a tractor makes, in my educated opinion.
Considering the amount of times we have read it, the book has worn well, and still looks brand new. It hasn't torn, but this is probably due to my carefulness rather than the quality of the book. I can easily see it tearing if treated less gently.
My niece likes the book, but not more than any other in our ever-growing collection. Once we read it we can point to the different pictures and she can (usually) make the associated noise, which is pretty neat.
Overall, I would recommend this as an addition to your library (or wobbly stack, as we have), though it probably won't become a firm favourite. It's fun for what it is, and considering the price, is an excellent buy.
My Niece's Rating: 4*
My Rating: 3*
RRP: £3.99 (heavily discounted to 11p at The Works)
Publisher: PARRAGON Books