Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Toyologist Review: Tag Junior

£29.99 from Toys R Us (includes 1 book, others sold separately at £9.99)

I'm scared of libraries. It didn't begin this way.  I used to like going to the library and looking at all the books. Things started to change when I had to go to the library to look stuff up for homework purposes (a distant and hard to remember time before Wikipedia, Google, hell even before Encarta). Then Buffy came along and taught me that monsters live beneath libraries. And Doctor Who told me that there was a 50-50 chance of turning into a walking skeleton or being 'saved'. Not to mention the rampant monkeys apes...

Still, at least by this time there was Google.

Anyway, there's a good chance public libraries aren't going to be around for much longer which begs the question: where are the Vashta Nerada going to live now?

Which kind of brings me to the latest arrival from Toys R Us: the LeapFrog Tag Junior. It's aimed at 2-4 year olds, and will definitely not in any way help your child to learn to read. But then that isn't really the point of it. The sole purpose, basically, of the Tag Junior is to get children to have an interest in books. The idea being that if a child has fun with this book then he/she is going to be more likely to want to pick up further books.

And then the fun really begins.

Rowling, Pratchett, King, Pullman, Johnson... All these and more await the child who makes the good decision to start reading.

The Tag system is really rather clever - and I say that as a person who is clever. You download the audio from the internet onto the little hand-held thingamajig, then as the child presses this on different areas of the book it makes different sounds.

If you look closely at the pages you'll see that all the pages are 'dotty' and the thingamajig reads the dots to make the correct noises.

You can fit 5 books on the thingamajig, which means that 5 books is probably the maximum number of books you're going to buy for it. It's a bit of messing about (far more that is really necessary) downloading the audio  so not something a parent would want to do all the time. It'd also be annoying if you'd just deleted Book A to make room for Book F and then the child decided he wanted to read Book A again.

The only problem with this product is that the wrong people will be buying it. The type of person who buys this is probably one who regularly sits down with their children and reads books with them (which is what I'd consider to be by far the best way of getting children to enjoy reading). My children had a bit of a play with it, but would much rather Dad/Mum/Aunty Sophie read a book with them instead.

If you're looking for an unusual gift for a child who has little interest in reading then the Tag Junior is well worth considering. It may even be worth buying for an adult who simply likes clever gadgets.

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook.

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