Our trip to South Africa earlier this year has prompted a real interest in travel and where different places are in the world with my daughters. That is why when I spotted the Dorling Kindersley Around the World game on the Yellow Moon website, I knew it would make an ideal seventh birthday present for my eldest daughter. It is a game for between two and four players and is seems to be based on the game of Snakes and Ladders with a round the world theme. It is recommended for children between the ages of five and eight but of course parents can play too!
The board is made of strong sturdy cardboard which folds out when it is out of the box to make a fairly large playing area. The map of the world is shown on the board and this is then divided into 56 squares. The playing pieces are small cardboard aeroplanes that fit easily on the squares and have little stands in order to keep them upright. The idea is to be the first player to get to the final square and having crossed all of the continents and having obeyed any instructions that have been landed on. Sometimes you are told to move forwards or backwards or miss a turn, and sometimes you are made to travel to completely different places following a trail that look like the snakes on Snakes and Ladders. All the instructions are specific to whereabouts the player is on the map - for example missing a turn to look at Table Mountain or to visit the Eiffel Tower. The winner is the player who lands exactly on the final square first. It does seem a share that this final square happens to be nowhere at all - how much better it would have been to aim for the North Pole!
The basis of the game is very simple - probably a bit too simple for my liking - but my daughters seem to like it. Because of the way the board is laid out, players don't start or finish anywhere in particular so although you are crossing the world there is no sense of a journey and the need to get from A to B! It is educational though to have a board that shows the map of the world as it does get children looking at where places are and my elder daughter is absolutely fascinated by this. She loves looking at the different continents and seeing the different countries. Unfortunately they are not all labelled which is a shame. The only African country named is South Africa and there are no named countries in South America. Therefore in my view although it is quite educational it is also a bit limited.
The game is quite useful for encouraging children to read as there is quite a lot of information to read on some of the squares. This is much easier for my seven year old than for her five year old sister and it is worth being aware of the need for players to be reasonable readers if they are going to play the game without adults.
I think this is a reasonable game that is quick and quite easy to play. We have played as a family and it is a nice one to share with our daughters. I can't help wishing though that more could have been made of making journeys and more places identified on the map. Despite these misgivings though, it is an enjoyable game that does not take too long. It is currently available for only £1.43 from Amazon sellers) July 2010). You can't really go wrong at that price!