==Getting the Book==
The Leappad is a games console / reading aid from Leapfrog, if you are interested in the actual console then please see my previous review as this one is for the Madagascar book.
We didn't actually buy the console or the books to go with it but were given them by a friend of ours whose children were too old for the console and since it's really durable and longlasting it is still in perfect working order.
You can still buy the Leappad systems and books to go with it on second hand sites such as Ebay or on sites such as Amazon which lets face it sells just about everything you could ever want to buy, this book can be picked up from about £4.
==The Front Cover==
The front cover of the book shows the main characters of the film Madagascar and is very brightly coloured just like in the film. The book has a spiral down the left hand side and there is a strip down the side with tells you that the book is meant for children aged 4-6 years old and of course displays the Leapfrog logo. The books is great quality and the cover is on really thick paper and has a glossy finish and the spiral is nice and strong so doesn't misshapen which is great as for all my daughter is 5 so knows how to look after things her sister is only 2 so hasn't quite got to understand the concept yet.
On the side of the book on the bright red strip it tells you you're your child should be able to learn from this book, this book can teach African animal facts, how to say hello and goodbye in other languages, short and long vowels sounds, simple spelling, learning about parts of speech such as nouns and verbs, simple addition and subtraction and geometry in the form of learning to recognise 2 and 3 dimensional shapes. As you can see that is a pretty wide range of things to get from one short book so even if your child only picks up bits of them it is still a great learning aid and that is just one book.
To use the book you have to open the Leappad console which is done very simply by pushing in a button on the upper piece and then the console opens up like a book. You place the book you are going to play with inside the console and the spiral fits nicely into a gap in the console. You have to place the cartridge which matches the book into the console which is really easy as it can only fit in there one way and then press the on off button to start your play. The console is easy to work on my daughter is able to work the console and set up a new book on her own.
On each page of the book you have a go button to press with your pen (the pen in the console not a real pen) to activate the page. The story of the book follows the story of the film pretty well which my daughter likes as she gets excited that she knows what happens as she has watched it on the TV. There is a speech bubble at the beginning of each paragraph on each page and when pressed it will read the whole section of wording on the page or your child can touch the words individually to control the reading themselves. Sophie likes to touch the words herself as she is learning to read at the moment so she likes to try and read the words herself and then touch them to see if she is correct but then if a word is too hard she can just touch it and let the console read it for her. I think it is really good that there are two options so your child can pick the way they want to read it depending on how they feel.
If you don't do anything for a while when the system is turned on it has different sayings which it will randomly speak to encourage your child to keep playing. There are little triangles at the bottom of the page one with a + on it and one with a - on it and these control the volume of the book although it doesn't go up too loud so it is comfortable for the parents whilst their children interact with the book.
Each page has a game button at the bottom of it so that your child can get even more out of them, the games cover a wide range of things that a child aged 4-6 should be learning or should already know such as numbers and counting, directions which my daughter finds a little more difficult and shapes which Sophie knows by heart. The great thing about this is that since your child is playing a game they don't actually realise that they are learning new things and it is amazing how quickly they can pick things up. Sophie becomes quite competitive with herself over the games and tries to beat her previous tries which is good in one respect but I am trying to teach her not too be too highly competitive particularily with her sister since she is only 2.
Sophie loves playing with the book and the whole console system, she loves touching different pictures on the pages and listening to what they are and the sounds they make, she also thinks it's funny to repeat the sounds to her sister who finds it hilarious when she keeps getting growled at. I think this and other books in the series have really helped to back up my daughter learning to read which I think is great and Sophie thinks is fantastic when she manages to work out a new word and she gets it right.
I think the system is fantastic, it teaches children with ease and they don't know that they are learning, both the console and the books are robust and don't break easily although the console does eat a lot of batteries which is a pain. The book is really brightly coloured and has loads of different things where your children can interact and my younger daughter ha now started touching things with the pen so I don't think it will be too long before she starts playing with it properly either.
The books are available for ages up to 8 years old so there is plenty more playing time from this console and then of course my youngest has even longer again left of play. Since we didn't pay for this system of the books it is really great value but I have been looking at some extra books for it and they are great prices and fantastic value too.
I cannot sing the praises of this book enough, it can be played with alone which Sophie enjoys doing or I can sit and play with her and encourage her with her reading. The book teaches so many different things and helps to test your childs memory which apart from the usual pairs game Sophie's memory has never really been tested until she started playing with these. I give this book 5 stars out of 5 and know that Sophie would too as it is a book that she plays with over and over again.
As I have written other reviews about the Leappad system and books some of the background information will repeat itself. I feel it is necessary to include this again for anyone who has not read my other reviews.
We gave my son his Leappad on his 3rd birthday and to start with he was happy to just press the green go circle on each page to hear the story. Over the past couple of years he has been getting a couple of books from my parents and us for birthday and Christmas presents and now that he is learning to read by himself he is moving on to some of the slightly more advanced books.
The Leappad is one of many electronic learning toys from Leap Frog. It is also available with a writing version nowadays but we have the original and it works by way of a book, a cartridge and an electronic pen that can be used to point to various things on each book. If you want to know more about the system itself, I have an old review lurking somewhere on the site about it.
Before starting to use this book make sure the cartridge is pushed into the side of your Leappad so as it knows which book you are about to use. The cartridges are made of a pretty sturdy plastic casing with an opening at the side to be attached to the Leappad. This one has a picture of the Alex the Lion from Madagascar on the top of it as well as the written word so it's easier for a child that can't read yet to see which one is needed.
The book has a binder edge so that the pages can be turned easily and it sits well in the system, but this could cause problems for younger users who might need a little bit of help so they don't get torn.
I haven't seen all of the film Madagascar as yet, although my son and husband tell me it's brilliantly funny, but I am told that the story follows the film pretty well. There are lots of things to do in the book as you go along to help make this experience more fun for your child, so although it does start to help your child to recognise sounds and words, the learning doesn't just stop there.
On the first pages we are introduced to the main characters in the story and the system encourages children to try touching different things with the pen if there is too long between anything being done. On each page there is also a green go circle at the left hand side of the page and when touched, this lets the Leappad system know which page you are on.
When you first touch this green circle you will be told the next part of the story before being left to explore the page in more detail. Touching animals or objects will let your child hear other commentary or sound effects such as the beeping of horns or the roar of an animal. The written words of the story can be touched to hear them again separately or touching the speech bubble beside them will recite that page again.
There are games that can be played by touching the pen on areas at the bottom of each page and these encourage all sorts of different things from finding shapes, learning about directions and simple number recognition and counting.
***The Learning Factor***
These books are brilliant for teaching children a whole host of things through fun and games. Simple things can be picked up like how to tell the time and learning letters. You probably won't even realise that your child is picking these things up until they actually point them out in the real world but it's a way of introducing a lot of learning in a way that won't bore them.
The specific learning aids in this book that are highlighted are African animal facts, how to say hello and goodbye in other languages, short and long vowels sounds, simple spelling, learning about parts of speech such as nouns and verbs, simple addition and subtraction and geometry in the form of learning to recognise 2 and 3 dimensional shapes.
***The Age Group***
The thing I like about this set of books is that they have an age group on them and this means that you can choose a book that won't be so advanced that they get frustrated with it but not so easy that they become bored quickly either.
This one is for children aged between four and six years old but I have to say that my son was using some of this age group when he was only 3 with some help from me, so it really depends on your child's abilities.
I'm really impressed by the Leappad system and the books we have in the collection now is really growing. They used to be quite expensive but they are gradually getting cheaper and a lot of places have them on sale at different times of year so we've got a little stash of them hidden away, ready for future birthdays. The range goes up to age 8 so there are going to be a few more years usage yet.
What I like about this book in particular is that it is really good fun for a child to be able to read a story about some characters that he is used to only seeing on DVD. The story is quite an abbreviated version here and there is more emphasis on a child's exploration of what is on the page rather than in the story itself, but I like that because with every touch, a new thing is learned or funny thing discovered.
My son asked for this one for Christmas and we were lucky enough to have found it previously for a great price so we were happy to oblige. This is one toy that he likes to play with when he is on his own because it does take a bit of concentration and of course now that he is learning to read by himself and understand instructions better, he doesn't need me around to supervise quite as much as he used to.
There is always a page on every Leappad book that my son takes a particular shine to and will sit and play the game on it for ages. In this book it's the one where the penguins send a postcard back to their zookeeper. There are blanks along the page with either a pink, blue or yellow box to fill. On the adjacent page there are various objects that can be pointed to and they are put in this postcard. They are separated into nouns, verbs and sound effects and the colours help him to understand what each word is. When all the spaces have been filled the finished story on the postcard is read out with some hilarious outcomes. Obviously it depends what your child picks but my son will sit for ages making up different stories and adding funny sound effects to this part of the book.
The other game that I like is a memory game and consists of penguins with the numbers one through to four on them. It's a bit like the old game of Simon with the colours but instead the voice shouts out a number and your child has to touch that number. This goes on up to a sequence of five numbers to remember the order of and really encourages a child to listen and remember things. It's just a shame my son can't remember the simplest of things in everyday life the way he can remember the numbers in this game. The sequences change each time so a child won't get bored easily.
We've certainly had our money's worth with this one already, as my son has used it quite a bit already since Christmas.
***Price & Availability***
There are many places you can buy the Leappad books from, including Argos and Woolworths but there is an online shop too at www.leapfrogshop.co.uk where you can get the books as well as other things like the carry cases for the books and cartridges.
This book is available at this online site for £11.99 but it's worth shopping around because we picked it up from Woolworths for only £2.99 a couple of months before Christmas. It's also available at Amazon for £9.99.
Alex, Gloria, Marty and Melman escape from the Central Park Zoo in a wild jungle adventure! Their lives are turned upside down in this animal adventure when they are marooned on the exotic island of Madagascar. This book teaches animal facts, hello and goodbye in 9 languages, short and long vowels, spelling, parts of speech, addition, subtraction and maths.Your child simply places the book on the LeapPad player, pops in the cartridge, and touch any page with the Magic Pen to bring learning to life. This book also works with the LeapPad Plus Writing learning system.