I’ve had a little selection from Bayard Books for quite a while, so apologies for not writing about them sooner. I don’t have children, of course, and my own childhood was spent immersed in a diet of Enid Blyton and Richmal Crompton and more or less nothing else – so I don’t posit myself as a children’s books expert. But these look really good quality, well put together, and good fun. Not usual fare for Stuck-in-a-Book, but perhaps of interest…
First off, I must alter my semantics. These aren’t actually classified as books, but rather as magazines – they come with issue numbers – but there’s so much in them, and they’re so durable, that the word magazine doesn’t seem to do them justice. At £3.95 each, they’re more or less magazine price, but book value. (Gosh, I sound like a marketing wizard…)
Bayard Books sell these magazines for three separate ages ranges.
Story Box: 3-6 yrs. (www.storyboxbooks.com)
Adventure Box: 6-9 yrs. (www.adventureboxbooks.com)
Discovery Box: 9-12 yrs. (www.discoveryboxbooks.com)
Each magazine comes with an astonishing amount of stuff in it, and a great variety. Let’s have a little look through one of each of those three categories…
-Issue 131 kicks off with a rather adorable story about ‘Taffy’s bag of secrets’, with some really charming illustrations.
-Then onto ‘How Are Babies Made?’ – gosh, do they really tell 3-6 year olds this now? A sciency section is regular throughout the issues – another has How Do Bones Grow. Given my rather dreadful biological knowledge, I can probably pick up a thing or two.
-SamSam ‘the smallest of the big heroes’ seems to be an ongoing cartoon – in this issue he deals with cloning, as you do.
-Alligators! Some fun cartoons and facts about them.
-And then, of course, the wonderful old standards of dot-to-dot and mazes, secret codes, colouring spots and picture puzzles. Since this is a magazine, there’s even space to send in your own drawings.
-Cats! The story in Adventure Books is much longer, with more words and smaller pictures, appropriate for the age group. And it’s about cats, at least in issue 133, which has instantly won me over.
-CraftBox section – I’m so glad that children still make things, not just play them on computers. Nintendo and suchlike (I would be behind the times, but I never knew anything about computer consoles, we never had one) can’t live up to making something from an old plastic bottle, in my opinion. In this case, a cow money box. Economical and ecological – perfect at the moment.
-The rest of the magazine is filled with puzzles and a cartoon. I don’t think Adventure Box offers quite the same scope as Story Box, but by the time children are 6-9 this sort of product is read alongside other things (like Enid Blyton! Do it!) rather than forming the majority of their reading.
-Issue 133 looks at volcanoes, with plenty of great illustrations, including a fold-out. There’s an interview with a volcanologist, an experiment to try, and so forth.
-Then onto albatrosses!
-And jeans! The range of topics covered by these magazines is phenomenal, and very impressive. Not to mention thorough – the section on jeans, for example, is far more interesting than I’d have thought the topic could be.
-And then the ‘World’ section. If there’s something I’m worse at than biology, it’s geography – I didn’t even know where Tanzania was, now I can tell you its capital (Dodoma), the fact that it has 126 different languages (eek!) and, most excitingly for me, it has flamingos. I do love flamingos.
-Oh, I’ve always loved these – a Choose Your Own Adventure style story, where your choices navigate you through the story (in this case, of an Egyptian Pharaoh).
I hope that’s been thorough enough an overview for you! I didn’t think I could do justice to the depth and breadth of Bayard Books without doing something like this. While I don’t think these magazines (especially the ones for older children) should in any way replace traditional book reading, they are a brilliant way of adding extra reading. Especially if the child in question has a scientific bent – and I definitely got the impression that Discovery Box would appeal to the types of boys and girls attracted by explosions and machines and so forth, which isn’t for everyone, perhaps.
If you have children or grandchildren in those age brackets, why not buy an issue or two, and see what they think? Even better, come back tomorrow for the chance to win two magazines. I’ll be giving them away in three sets – 2 x Story Box; 2 x Adventure Box; 2 x Discovery Box. See you then.