Friday, April 3, 2020

Freeform Friday Spotlight: Clever Encyclopedia: First Words - Cecile Jugla, Illustrated by Marion Piffaretti

Summary: This incredibly entertaining first encyclopedia is filled with over 500 things to learn!
Packed with games and learning opportunities, these vibrant photographic and illustrated pages invite curious minds to explore and discover. First Words is designed to encourage enriching experiences for little learners, and is a valuable addition for any child's library! (Summary from www.clever-publishing.com)

My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I don't know about you guys, but we're going on day 437 of quarantine over here and although we aren't struggling hardcore yet, I feel like we're right on the edge of losing it. My school-aged children are doing their schoolwork and seem to be doing quite well, but my younger children are really struggling. They're used to running errands, doing play dates, going to preschool, etc. It's hard to keep them busy and not fighting. It's just a really different pace of life, as I'm sure you're feeling as well. I've been trying to keep them entertained and enriched as best as I can. Luckily, I got this cute little book to review and I'm excited to tell you about it, which is why I'm putting it on a Freeform Friday. I think it deserves a little delving into.

I have a five-year-old girl who is in preschool, but obvi that preschool isn't happening right now. She is doing a reading and numbers computer program put on in our state, which is really great, but that only takes up about 40 minutes of our day. She wants to know more! Over the years I've purchased a myriad of different "kindergarten ready" and pre-k workbooks for other kids to work on, and we never really completely made it through them with each kid, so she's picking up the dregs of what wasn't finished in those books (I think that's pretty much a summation of our quarantine experience at this point. ha!)

This is a cool little book and it's different the (many) others I've purchased over the years. You can see here from the table of contents that it addresses a variety of different concepts, many of which I feel like aren't touched on in other pre-k ready books I've purchased. Obviously it touches on some of the normally addressed (and important topics) like colors and numbers, but it also adds in other fun concepts like sizes, speech, and where and when.



As you can see, the book is divided into different sections. Within those sections there are several pages of fun little activities, and they are creative and really different than other workbooks we've used. Whereas other workbooks will have a limited number of types of activities to do, and repeat them pretty much again and again while addressing different topics (like letters or numbers), this fun little book has interesting and different ways to teach different concepts, which I liked. I can pretty much use one of my other workbooks to work on different topics, and then use Clever Encyclopedia in addition and address different learning topics, or even just address the same or similar topics we've been discussing in other books in another way. Here are some pics of the different sections to give you an idea of what they look like. Each section is a different color, and so it's easy to either take on a section a day or at a time or whatever and keep track of where you are. The section title pages usually span across two pages, but I'm just giving you the first page of it to get an idea:





One of my favorite things about this is the artwork. I thought it was exceptional! The colors were beautiful and bright, and the pictures are really cute and whimsical. There are also a few photos scattered in there of real-life things, but for the most part it is the cutest artwork! I just love it! Many of the other workbooks I have just have lame artwork. You can tell they're just dialing it in or using clip art or whatever it takes to just put their book out there with narry a care to what it actually looks like. That is not so with this book. The artwork is detailed and fun and different. It's very much like a storybook but with the added benefit of teaching skills in a fun and inventive way.

I do have two gripes about this book, and they're minor, really. The first is I'm not sure why it's called "First Words." It really isn't a book that is teaching reading. It's definitely a "first concepts" kind of book what with teaching shapes and colors and such, but as far as words? Not really. It's not like it shows them how to sound out words or spell words or anything. I was trying to decide what I would call it last night instead of "first words," and I think something like "Learning Primer" or "PreK Readiness" or "Basic Learning Fun" would be good, although those titles are obviously boring and probably why they haven't asked me what they should be called. Anyway, the title doesn't really impact how great the book is other than the fact that it just doesn't really describe what the book is. However, now that I've shown you and told you about it, I think you definitely know what kind of book it is and wouldn't have a problem knowing picking it up.

My second gripe is that it is basically a storybook--it is bound like a normal hardbound storybook, and so it seems like it's weird to write in it. The pages are not erasable or anything, they are just normal book pages, so I couldn't even get my preschooler to write in it (that was shocking because she's a wall doodler for sure, annoyingly). It just feels like a normal book and so even though many of the activities can be done by just pointing and showing, there are a few cases where it would be better to write in the book, but it feels like you can't. There are even little spaces for writing, but I couldn't get my daughter to do it. Plus, at the price point it's at you don't really want to ruin the book, especially if you have other little kids coming up that could use it, which I do. It is a little more expensive than other books I've purchased that are similar, and it's not as long as some of those ones, but I think it does make up for it in quality of content and art.

If you are looking for some additional supplementary books, or even a book to help your little kid, this is a great choice. If quarantine has got you trapped and you feel like you're wanting something a little different, I highly recommend checking this out. Both my daughter and I have enjoyed it, and even though we've read most of it all already, she still likes to go back and revisit her favorite pages and topics.

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is clean. 

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