Review of The Princess and the Dragon Storysack

How long would a picture book hold the attention of a young child? Five minutes? Ten? Maybe half-an-hour if the book is good and the child attentive enough to want to look at it several times.

If you want to get more from your book - to really get inside the story and live with the characters – what you need is a Storysack.
Inside a bright big sack you get your storybook – in this case the tale of a princess who behaves like a dragon and a dragon who behaves like a princess – and a whole resource pack to go with it.

There’s a cassette tape with this story read aloud and there are top quality hand puppets of the dragon and the princess.
As well as the puppets, children will be able to act out the complete story for themselves as there’s another book included, containing a dramatised version of the same story, complete with cardboard character masks. The masks have cleverly designed eye-holes, and with a flick of your hand you turn them round to reveal the same character with a different sad, fierce or frightened face, as the drama requires. Children in the four to ten age bracket never miss an opportunity to act out stories and the play script here gives them the perfect structure for putting on a whole drama for themselves.

But that’s not all. The concept of the Storysack is as a literacy aid, so you also get a guide for parents, a non-fiction book Our Home is Our Castle, showing different types of homes around the world and a language game. The game itself turns out to be six games in one. With four collecting boards and thirty-six lotto cards with pictures from The Princess and the Dragon, you can turn it into a variety of matching, memory, reading, word association and mime games, fro any number of players.

And if you thought that you were good at reading books aloud, your eyes will be opened by the parent guide and prompt card, giving more hours of activities than could be imagined from one simple storybook. There are ideas for comprehension exercises, word games, craft activities, vocabulary use and tips on how to get the most out of reading, which can then be applied to any story that you use in the future.

How many hours educational play could be squeezed from one Storysack is impossible to calculate, but you’ll never again be satisfied with simply reading a book to a child once and putting it down. Okay, these sacks are not cheap. At £40-£50 they’re an investment, but what an investment. Particularly if you’ve got two or more children, they’re a brilliant resource which can be adapted in so many ways, both fun and educational, and will keep cousins and friends entertained as well by including everyone in the activities at their own literacy level.

Naturally, the Storysacks are also an invaluable resource for teachers too – no school should be without one.

Cork Evening Echo. 1st February 2004

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