Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Smart Kids

Some of my fondest memories from childhood are of sitting in the large green recliner with my mom and taking turns reading pages of books.  I’ve been carrying on the “reading chair” tradition with my Schnickelfritz –and sadly, I know our days of fitting together in the chair are numbered.  A recent Homeschool Crew review product gave us another chance to build some reading chair memories. 

 Nanuq: A Baby Polar Bear’s Story  is one of Smart Kids My Animal Family series.  The young title character has a brother, Suka, who is all play and no work.  While mother bear is trying to teach her cubs the necessary skills for survival or just catch up on her sleep (sounds like a homeschool mom to me), Suka is only interested in goading his brother to wrestle.   When he is rescued from a potentially deadly encounter with some walruses, Suka finally learns that there is a time for being serious as well.

 I was glad for the opportunity the book provided to talk with Fritz about the need to devote time to chores, sleep, and studying—yes, he’s one of those little fellows that would rather be building forts all day.  He did get the point of the story as well.

 Fritz didn’t care to sit beside me and look at the pictures though.  When I had the chance to study the pictures rather than read I didn’t linger too long either.  I can only describe the illustrator’s style as dissonance for the eyes.  Somehow the pictures seemed slightly out of focus and I wanted to rub my eyes to remedy the problem.   Just be aware of this if you have a child with sensory issues.  I did share the story with some Thanksgiving guests and they didn’t seem to mind the pictures as much from a distance so maybe this book is better read like the librarian at storytime-seated in front of the kids.

 Far more enjoyable for us was the included DVD.   Crisp videos of polar bears in the wild filmed by the BBC were narrated by a child portraying Nanuq.   There were also fun polar bear facts and a music video.

In the book (behind the DVD) was a card with a passcode to log in to the MAF Kids Club website.  Your kids can create their own explorer avatars and play several games themed to the arctic habitat of Nanuq.  If you register other books (currently there are five) you can explore the ocean, the jungle, or the savanah with dolphins, chimpanzees and elephants.   There are virtual jigsaw puzzles to complete or more video-gamish activities like trying to "catch" snowflakes.  Nothing is too difficult--the website is geared to kids K-2.

Smart Kidz bookstore has Nanuq and the four other My Animal Family books for sale at $10.39 plus s/h.  You can see what my fellow Homeschool Crewmates thought of Nanuq by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Nanuq: A Polar Bear's Story for the purpose of completing this review.  I received no other compensation.

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