CM . . . .
Volume V Number 18 . . . . May 7, 1999
In this toy book, it is Christmas eve, and Santa has come down the chimney to leave some toys. However, before he departs, he plays with some of them, including a train, some toy soldiers, a doll's house, and a plane. As the above excerpt indicates, the brief, rather pedestrian text is written using internal rhyme. Other than the opening illustration, the remainder, which are rendered in a realistic style, are double page spreads. In each illustration, the young viewer is asked to manipulate something. On the first page, youngsters "slide" Santa up and down the chimney. On the next, they "slide" the train along the tracks. They then "push/pull" the soldiers to march them along the blocks before they lift the wall to look inside the doll's house. They are also given the opportunity to "fly" a toy plane by sliding it along a path. Finally, they can "pull" the teddy bear's eyes closed so that it can go to sleep while an angel moves its arm for some unknown reason when you "pull" its tab.
Parents tend to be more impressed with this type of book than are young children who are often frustrated by being physically incapable of the fine push/pull/slide movements required of them. If you are to purchase this title, be certain to "loosen" up the moving parts before giving it to children to manipulate. In the review copy, for example, the airplane kept getting stuck in the gutter as it flew along its "flight path" while the British style locomotive required a perfectly horizontal movement or it came off (disappeared below) the tracks. Also recognize that such books usually have a short working life when left in the hands of most young children.
Recommended with Reservations.
Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and YA literature courses in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
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