5 October, 2016

Children’s Book Review: Message In A Bottle By Tom Percival & Tuire Siiriainen

I have been privileged to be a member of the launch team for this lovely personalised book for children and it’s been a real eye opener to discover exactly how much work goes in to writing, designing and producing a story like this.

Personalised children’s books seem to be all the rage at present and readers of this blog may recall my recent review of The Little Boy Who Lost His Name.

This book, with words by Tom Percival and illustrations by Tuire Siiriainen is different because it combines the personalisation with an educational element and is complemented by an online kids club.

Message In A Bottle tells the story of little bird Kiki, a Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper  who wants to explore the world and gets her chance when she finds a message in a bottle washed up on the shore.

This message is where the personalisation comes in.  Parents, grandparents or any other gift giver can send a personalised message in the bottle which is revealed towards the end of the story.

Even cleverer, by entering your child’s name and address, these details are shared at certain points in the story so that you feel Kiki is really sending a special message direct to your child.  The rolled up message has your child’s name and address on it and they are referred to by name in the story.

On her journey, Kiki meets a number of other animals who help her to track down the bottle’s destination, and some are more of a hindrance than a help.  Will she get the bottle and its message to the right owner?

Some of these animals are easy to recognise but one of the great points about this book is that it introduces you to new species that your child may not have learned about – for example the Plover and the Sailfish.

The team at Blueberry & Pie, (the publishers) has worked closely with Szymek Drobniak, Ph.D. of evolutionary biology to ensure that the zoological and geographical facts are accurate and true. Dr Drobniak also helped to create content for Kiki’s Kids Club.

Not only that but the route of the journey is accurate as well with the story being specifically designed to start in Hawaii and end in Europe with the animals on the way geographically true to their locations.

At Kiki’s Kids Club online your child can learn more about the animals in the story by clicking on an interactive map which takes them to the right continent and ex;plains a little more about the creatures who appear.

For example, by clicking on Europe you can learn more about the Long-Eared Owl and in North America you can learn about the Grizzly Bear.  In total you can learn about 14 animal species, the same number that appears in the story.

There is also a quiz, a monthly poll and printable colouring sheets to download.

The book is beautifully produced with warm, bright illustrations and the story is long enough to keep a child interested.  I would say that the ideal age range for this book is up to around 7 years old.

Message In A Bottle is ordered on line via a simple process.

You simply add the child’s name, address and then your message.  There is even a selection of templates for you to choose from to help you write your note.

We chose a message to help Caitlin face her fears and stay brave in the face of a challenge. She loved this and was even more impressed because her photograph was printed on the page (simply upload when you order).

In fact, the whole ‘message’ of the story is to be brave, take a risk and you’ll find people (or animals!) to help you get to where you want to go – a pretty good motto for life in general.

You can the preview the book to check that you’re happy that the details are correct and then check out and pay in the usual manner.

The book, which is printed in the UK, costs £19.95 with free shipping.

I think it would make a lovely, thoughtful gift for Christmas.

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Midlife mum from Cardiff. Wine Imbiber. Likes glitter, fluff and olives. Approaching tweendom with Caitlin (11) and Ieuan (10). The husband is hiding in the loft.

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