Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Smarty Pants Series - for Babies and Toddlers

Smarty Pants Series Books

There are 19 Smarty Pants Books.  So far...

They are aimed at the Under 3 aged crowd -
teaching vocabulary to babies and toddlers.

These books are normally listed at 99cents each.
They are frequently listed as free - usually for several days each time.






These books are not getting many reviews - and not many good reviews ...

but what are the negative points?

....  too babyish for my 3 year old.
....  uses the wrong words for objects (apparently British English)
....  pictures are generic
....  only one word per picture
.... some of the pictures are very small

Considering that these books are designed to teach babies new words for objects that are probably not in their every day routine,  most of these negative comments are not too condemning.

Using generic pictures is common practice as well, and generic doesn't always mean poor quality as it means limited selection.

Using the wrong words could be a problem.  In the tools book, a screw was labeled as a nail.  On the other hand, babies don't usually read the books to themselves, so it would be easy enough for the parent or whoever is reading the book to the baby, to say the correct word for your area and even discuss the pictures in more detail.

There actually were a few very positive reviews as well, although they didn't say much more than "this is a really nice book".

I've looked at several of the books ... Numbers, Tools, African Animals, Colors, and a few others.

The negative comments are accurate ... children over 3 and even older 2 year olds will probably be bored with the books very quickly.  The pictures are not the most amazing thing you've ever seen.  Pictures sometimes don't match the word - such as giraffe in the African Book ... the screw in the tools book ... the rhombus in the shape book  ...  the peach in the fruit book, but in the books that I saw, usually only one or two pictures were "mislabeled" or "strangely labeled".

While the pictures are probably free generic issued pictures, most of them are fairly nice pictures.  Although again, at least one or two pictures in almost every book I looked at was either somewhat distorted (such as a tilted rectangle) or just didn't seem to belong with the rest of the words (such as the bag of gardening tools in the Tools book)  and the orange notebook was more red than orange - at least on my computer.  A few pictures were smaller and harder to see than most of the others.

Overall - I would consider what I saw B or C grade work - they are not the worst thing ever, and if you need a vocabulary book to assist with a toddler or special needs child, these would mostly work just fine.  But for a reader or a serious study of the topic, they will be a huge disappointment.

Personally, I feel the errors and small "picture problems" are enough to make them not worth investing 99 cents, nor is it worth your time to actively pursue getting the whole collection.

But it is probably worth the FREE offers, so you can decide for yourself whether or not they are usable to you.

If you DO want to try them for the 99cents, be sure to check them out immediately - because if you do not like them at all, you can go directly to the "Manage Your Kindle" link found at the bottom of every Amazon page, find the book that you do not like, click the Actions button ... there you will see "Return for Refund" if you purchased the book or "Delete From Library" if it was Free or can longer be refunded.  Usually the refund button is available for at least 2 weeks.

Personally ....

I will probably sit down with Sunshine (my almost 3 year old) in the next few weeks, and actually look through our entire collection of Smarty Pants books.  Then I will go ahead and delete the ones that do not hold her attention.  She loves picture books like this though, so I expect to keep quite a few of them for a few months.

I do not mind the errors in the books so much, because they can be turned into a lesson on observation and thinking ... as well as pointing out that you should be careful not to believe and accept everything that you see.  I may even have Scholar (7 year old) look up many of the questionable animals to see if the book is correct and if not, why and what the picture really is instead.

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