Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Holiday diversions part 2

Solid reading matter is all well and good for holiday distraction but sometimes something lighter is called for. It's hard to sustain concentration even on wizard boy H.P. at cruising altitude, and whilst endless games of Top Trumps and Uno could get us through the rest, sometimes a mother needs to rest her eyelids. So into both boys' rucksacks went a couple of Usborne sticker books (an old favourite)  and into Bill's went two Mega Mash-Up books (a new punt by me).

Continuing a previously mentioned theme of my love of Usborne; just how good are their sticker books? Really good I reckon. So nice in fact that Father Christmas had to bring one for the husband at Christmas time because he was getting sticker book envy. At moments of stress he likes to unwind by placing toga-ed Romans in the Senate or Bath house, or matching Gladiators together whilst making fighting noises.

What I Like About Them. A List.
1. The stickers actually stick. It's surprising how often this cannot be taken as a given in a sticker book.
2. The variety and number of stickers to be placed on each scene and the pleasing level of detail you can build up. One book can sustain an entire 2 week holiday of first sticking fun and then back story discussion.
3. There are dress up sticker books for boys! I used to love cutting out the clothes with little tabs for paper dolls and hanging them on perilously. It was one of the activities I had quietly let go of ever revisiting (along with very detailed colouring in of Altair pattern books) when I realised I was to be a Mother of Sons. Thanks to Usborne's Soldiers, Knights, Pirates etc. titles I can share the joy of choosing who should have which breastplate/sword combo.
4. They're even a bit educational but only a bit so that's okay.

On to Mega Mash-ups by Niklass Catlow, Tim Wesson and...Bill. These are a bunch of new 'draw your own adventure titles'published by Nosy Crow that offer pleasingly silly juxtapositions. I got Bill 'Robots V Gorillas in the Desert' and 'Romans V Dinosaurs on Mars'.

We've had cheapy draw-it-yourself books before but they've never been much used partly because the stories offered have been pretty yawn inducing and partly because the pages were intimidatingly blank enough to make the task feel overwhelming I think. These however were an instant hit with the Bill boy.

A passion for drawing is a recent discovery for him and the books provide just enough space and support to encourage him to draw just what he likes; ie. exploding banana monsters and mutant robot dinosaurs. They're in a simple chapter book format and full of silliness and poo and Tom and Jerry style fighting and poo and silly insults and poo, pressing all the right buttons in terms of text and graphics to enchant a 7 year old boy. There's also a section at the back of each book with a visual dictionary to help develop your cartoon drawing skills. Over the week he probably only completed about a third of the pages so there's plenty to come back to too.
I'm going to be giving a lot of these as birthday presents I think.

Thanks to such distractions I got to read 950 pages of Anthony Trollope. Well packed Me though I say so myself.

'Romans sticker book' (amongst many, many others) pub. Usborne Activities isbn 978-1-4095-3072-5
'Romans V Dinosaurs on Mars' by Niklas Catlow, Tim Wesson and Your Child (amongst several others)
pub. Nosy Crow isbn 978-0-85763-001-8

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