Advantages pretty pictures
Disadvantages incomprehensible for target audience
This opinion is not all about Grolier as a whole, but their offer on Thomas the Tank Engine books.My mother-in-law gave loads of books bought from Grolier book club to my 3 year old Thomas-mad son for Christmas. Clearly she had seen the offer and thought that it would be perfect for him. And in theory this would be true.
However, here are a few words of warning since I have now myself seen the marketing material for these books and think that it is not well presented and people may be disappointed.The offer states that the books are all about the 'enchanting world of rails and steam... of puffs and whistles'. It also says that the books offer 'Two traditional stories in each book'. Both of these statements are completely true. Problem is that these books are the original stories as written by the Awdry chap. The parent of the average Thomas age child these days will be used to the easy books written by his son and, lets be honest, the kids enjoying Thomas stuff these days are basically in the the 2 - 4 age range, hence most products based around Thomas are simple and age appropriate. The marketing material for these books offer these bonuses: 'sturdy, ... wipe-clean hard covers' (clearly aimed at mucky small children) 'Fun, full-colour illustrations on every page' (again, aimed at the kiddy market). But the books are not appropriate for this age range.
Despite them saying that the books are written in 'clean, easy-to-read type', these books are written in complex sentences with many references to bits of rail equipment which those living in the age of steam would not have a problem with understanding but it means nothing to me, let alone my 3 year old. Also, frankly, the little snippets of rail-lore are boring! I think that when they were first written, the audience for them would have been older children than those targetted with Thomas stuff these days.I am an English teacher and literacy specialist and I would really not find theses easy to read with even the brightest 4 year old. Even older kids would find them difficult since our language and our expectations of language use have shifted radically in the intervening years since these were written. This is not a case of 'dumbing down' but evolution in our communication styles.
Judge for yourself, but I would not waste my time engaging with this offer should you get a mailing or find a leaflet in a magazine. The leaflet I have clearly shows a fairly young child surrounded by the books and I would hate for people to be misled. My son, who is a pretty typical Thomas fan by way of his age, was fairly disappointed that, despite the pictures, he did not get what the stories were about.Here are some snippets:
'He swung round suddenly. "Douglas," he rapped, "why are you masquerading with Donald's tender?"''When the other coaches are taken away empty, engines have to remember to shunt the special coach to the Bay platform.' (yawn yawn)
Not to mention the bizarre attempts at recreating accents:'"They pented braw new nummers on oor tenders, but they put nane on uz... Haud yer wheesht."'
Well, Grolier can 'haud' on to their books as far as I am concerned.
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