“ Brand: Boots „
The Boots Learning Through Play Storytime Bear is a toy that came into our house almost by accident. We were browsing in Boots before Christmas when my husband took it off the shelf and idly showed it to our eleven month old baby. I don't think any of us were expecting the reaction that it got. He immediately grabbed it and snuggled his face deep into the bear's fur before kissing it repeatedly on the nose. It took a while before we were able to wrestle it out of our baby's grasp and leave the shop but it gave me an idea for a Christmas present. Later that day I sneaked back and bought it before presenting it to my mother as her Christmas present for our baby.
The bear is very cute to look at with light brown fur that is gorgeously soft; once you start stroking it, it's difficult to stop. He has small, brown eyes, a paler beige snout with a big brown nose on the end and a little tuft of sticky up hair between his ears. He is holding a red book, with "Time for a Story..." written on the front and inside the book is a list of four story and nursery rhyme titles. It is possible to push the bear's paws together in order to close the book. On one of the bear's feet there are four red circles marked "Press 1", "Press 2" and so on. At the back of the bear is a velcro strip behind which lies the battery pack.
** Using the Bear **
The main purpose of the toy is as a storytelling bear. Our baby watches quite transfixed as the buttons are pressed to make the bear talk. As the bear talks his jaw moves up and down to make it look as if his mouth is opening and closing and the look on our baby's face the first time he saw this was priceless!
The bear tells two stories - Cinderella and Goldilocks and the Three Bears and recites two nursery rhymes - Humpty Dumpty and Hey Diddle Diddle. I was surprised at what a very well-spoken bear he is. He enunciates his words beautifully. What I really like about the toy is that when telling the two stories it doesn't skip any details and tells each story in it's entirety. This can sometimes mean he tends to go on for a while though and there is no way to make him stop, but you can always press a nursery rhyme button to over-ride the story and the rhymes are over fairly quickly.
** Learning **
The bear is marketed by Boots as a toy to help develop language development by encouraging children to listen and copy sounds and words but with a little bit of imagination it can be used for so much more. We like to use it to play a game where we point to the different parts of the bear saying, for example, "Where's Teddy's eyes? There's Teddy's eyes". Also my son likes it when we cover the bear with a blanket and he has to find it and he's recently started covering and uncovering it himself providing endless amusement and developing the concept that items are still there even if they can't be seen. On a much simpler level, he's very snuggly and nice to cuddle.
** Price and Availability **
As this is a Boots Learning Through Play item it is only available from Boots but can be bought in store or online. Looking on the Boots website it appears that it is currently priced at £19.58 which I think is a price increase since before Christmas as I'm pretty sure it was only £18 then. We also bought it in the Christmas 3 for 2 promotion, effectively taking a third off the cost which is a much more attractive price. The bear takes three AA batteries which are already included when bought. Our bear is used a lot and the original batteries are still going strong.
** Would I recommend it? **
It's a lovely toy but I'm not sure it completely justifies it's price tag if bought at full price. It's very much a hit in our house but babies and children are fickle creatures and it could just have easily been completely ignored. If you were considering buying one I would recommend accidentally-on-purpose letting your child see it in the shops first and see what their reaction is. Also, it is quite difficult for a smaller child to press the buttons to make it work. He tries, but you need to press from the front and back of the foot at the same time as if you're squeezing the bears toes and a baby can't manage this so he can't play independently with it just yet. However, it still gets a big thumbs up from both myself and my baby and the only reason I haven't given it the full five stars is because of the price.
A big cuddly bear with stories to share. Press the pads on Storytime Bear's feet and he'll tell you a tale or sing along with his nursery rhymes.