Early years

25th August 2000 at 01:00
TEACHER'S PETS SERIES. Kevin's Seaside Picnic. Clara Goes to School. Desmond's Birthday Party. Timothy Flies South. Design Eye pound;4.99 each.

Children are creatures of habit. When it comes to playing with toys or looking at books, they like the familiar, things they can return to over and over again, like old friends.

There is nothing more frustrating and disappointing, therefore, than a toy full of promise that quickly disintegrates in young, clumsy hands, or a book that falls apart. Novelty and pop-up books can be wonderful, if the design is simple and sturdy. Young readers love to lift flaps, take out letters, turn and twirl things on the pages.

The interactive approach is enticing, and can draw children into the reading habit, but if the flaps soon come away, the letter wallets easily split and thepaper engineering fails, thenchildren - quite rightly - become disheartened.

It is unfortunate that the company that published this series calls itself Design Eye. It is unortunate also that these little books, where children complete the pictures themselves with stickers and are provided with little games, are entitled Teacher's Pets. I have no doubt that they would drive any self-respecting nursery or primary teacher wild with frustration.

Ostensibly they form a series which helps children recognise colour, count and tell the time, but young children find it very difficult to peel off the stickers, which are fiddly and tend to tear. The cards, which make up the games and are kept in a cardboard wallet at the front of the book, are so light and small that they are easily lost and little hands find it hard to get anything out of the wallet without splitting it.

Consequently, although children will enjoy the novelty of the stickers and the games, the finished product is likely to be tattered and torn from the first. These are one-go wonders. It is unlikely that children willtake them from the shelf fora second time.

Elaine Williams

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