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I'm a big fan of Usborne's books for children, finding them to be well-designed, robust, entertaining as well as being educational. This particular hard-back book, 'Farms', is part of Usborne's 'Lift and Look' series and has only served to reinforce my positive impression of the brand. This book joined our family when my oldest son was three years old and Santa saw fit to give this to him in person during a visit to his old nursery. My oldest is now ten years old and this book has survived (more or less intact) to be enjoyed over the past seven years by him and his two younger brothers. This alone indicates just how well-made this particular edition is, certainly at first glance there is no obvious indication to suggest just many eager little fingers have been tugging at the pages over the years! The book is larger than many other books aimed at pre-schoolers, leading to me to agree with the publishers' age recommendation of around one year plus. This was one of my youngest son's favourite books when he was around eighteen months' old. He would raid the book shelf and stagger over to me, clutching this surprisingly heavy board book with a look of anticipation all over his face! Even the fact that I have read this many times over in the course of an average day, didn't dampen his enthusiasm at all. The book genuinely is rather thick and heavy, despite containing just twelve pages. This is because the pages are made from extremely thick reinforced card which is why this book has survived so many readings over the years. The cover itself is much thicker than your average board book and the spine is also pretty robust with only very slight scuffing on the edges of our copy. Inside, the beauty of the story is clear to see. The images - featuring farm animals and scenes as the title would suggest - are incredibly clear, bright and eye-catching. Unusually, rather than just having illustrations, the characters in the book are actually hand-made models which does make this story stand out, quite literally giving it almost a 3D appearance on some of the pages. The story of the book, such as it is, centres around a girl called Anna and her day helping out on the farm. The reader is encouraged to 'help' Anna with her daily tasks. This takes the form of helping to find particular items, such as eggs and missing animals or clothing, as well as tasks which involve counting specific things. This makes the book very interactive and ensures that it appeals to older children, rather than just babies. With my youngest son, I tend to ignore the text and concentrate on labelling the different animals and items that he points out to me. My five year old still enjoys reading this too and he is keen to actually read the words and follow the instructions to 'help Anna.' The real attraction, particularly for the very young readers, is the inclusion of lots and lots of flaps to open. Each double page spread features a generous number of different flaps, as many as six or seven on some of the pages, although the last page includes just two larger flaps. In keeping with the resilience and quality of the book as a whole, the flaps are reinforced and very securely attached, much better than some cheaper quality alternatives. This managed to survive the first two children without any damage to the flaps at all. My youngest son has proven to be a little too enthusiastic, however, and has succeeded in tearing a couple of the flaps and even pulling one of them off altogether, much to his older brother's displeasure. Even this doesn't seem to have lessened the book's appeal. With new copies available for less than £6 on Amazon, it is fair to say that I think this lovely board book is worth every single penny. This is one that I'm happy to recommend to parents of children between one and four years old, although supervision is definitely recommended for the youngest readers if they are as destructive as my little one!
This book came into our family at the same time as my youngest son, when my husband's cousin came to visit the new baby bringing this as a present for our eldest who was 18 months old. It was a big hit then, and though it is now falling apart a bit, it is still quite a hit with both my kids now. They wouldn't let me throw it out in a recent book cull before Christmas. It is a simple flap book from Usborne, which is hard backed, and quite a large square book, at 22cm by 22cm. The book is about a girl called Anna who lives on a farm, and the story follows her day as she goes around doing jobs, and you get to help her, by helping to look for items like eggs, bees, her missing boot, and the missing hens. The illustrations in the book are slightly cartoon like, but absolutely lovely and action packed. I think this is one reason it is still popular with both boys as when you are looking in the picture and under the flaps, you can spot a fox peering from behind the combine harvester, all the different insects hidden under a log, or all the different types of veggies growing in the field. On each of the 5 double page spreads there are at least 4 flaps. These were of a reasonable thickness but have not all survived 3 years in our house, though most of that was probably my youngest before he was big enough to be gentle. ] The words in the text are not babyish in any way, so it is quite a grown up book. Eg. 'Anna is digging. Some bees are buzzing around. How many bees can you find?' There is good sentence construction and plenty of words that are understandable to toddlers to help them expand their vocabulary. I am not sure how much longer we will need to hang onto this copy as they are getting too big, but it has been much loved and I will have to sneak it out when the time comes. I'm a big fan of this book, and think it it is fabulous for reading with youngsters.