Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Build your own Stable by Juliet David and Christine Tappin (Lion Hudson Children's Books)

"So Today we're going to build a barn!"

It's not often a humble daddy blogger gets to utter those words but the superduper folk at Lion Hudson sent us one of their innovative 'build it' titles with a christmassy theme.

"Build your own Christmas Stable" combines the nativity story with a press-out-and-play barn.

The good thing is that no glue, scissors or fussy crafty bits are required (though sometimes that can feel a bit disappointing for children, who love any excuse to get covered in glue, paint and messy glitter).

As your child reads the story, you can start to build the stable piece by piece. Younger children might need an adult helper to extract the barn pieces but it's nice and chunky and durable, so anyone with sharp nails should manage quite nicely.

We've taken a look at several nativity scenes before (even some excellent Lego and Playmobil ones) and what we rather liked about this one was the fact that all the bits slot back neatly into the book once you've finished playing with them or once Christmas is over. Very good idea that!

The traditional story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, and finding shelter in a stable where Baby Jesus is born is quite magical for children even if (like us) they're not particularly religious. The story is dealt with quite sensitively and in a way that isn't overtly 'bible-ified'.

Charlotte particularly loved the animal characters, and of course the star to stick on the roof of the barn too.

The only real criticism we had was that sometimes the slots for each piece are a bit tight. I don't know if you can see it well enough in our photo of the completed stable but we had real problems fitting the roof on, and in the end we had to flip it and fit it with the straw facing inwards and the boards facing up! Not really too much of a problem as it still looked great, but it would've been quite difficult to get things to fit without perhaps enlarging the slots or risking damaging the pieces.

As you can see though, once it's all together it looks great and there's even a crib and baby jesus to use with the set.

Charlotte also discovered that it was the perfect size for her Playmobil figures and (rather irreverently) decided that her families of Playmobil folk would rather like to set up home in the stable (and a Playmobil baby would like Baby Jesus' crib more than he would! Eeeek!)

"Build your Own Stable" is nice and sturdy, with an attractively presented story, great illustrations and of course the thrill and challenge of putting together the puzzle-like pieces to build something 3-dimensional that can spur a child's imagination to tell the nativity story, and make up stories of their own.

Charlotte's best bit: Kidnapping the Stable and moving Playmobil families in!

Daddy's favourite bit: Aside from a few bits (like the roof) the stable slotted together beautifully and looks great when built.

(Kindly supplied for review by Lion Hudson Children's Books)