Choo! Choo! Guess the Vehicle! features a number of, you guessed it, vehicles. Each page shows the sound and the question "What's that noise?" on the right side of the page, and a colorful animal on the left. The entire left side opens out into a page-sized flap (the edge is curved for easy lifting) showing the whole vehicle. The train says "choo choo", the tractor says "chug chug", the digger says "dugga dugga", the motorbike says "vrooom vrooom", the fire engine says "wee-oo wee-oo".
You can't really guess most of the vehicles from the sounds or the clues in the pictures, but kids really won't care. Once you've read it, they'll adore going back through and finding their favorite vehicles.
Tap! Tap! Guess the Toy! follows the same format but includes more clues. "Ting a ling" signals a bell (on a tricycle), "tap" is a hammer for a pounding toy, "crash bang" is bricks (more familiar to US audiences as blocks), "quack" is a set of rubber duckies in the bathtub, and "beep" is the hooter on a riding toy.
This was too British for my audience I think. No toddler is going to guess the sounds as part of toys and we don't use some of the terms like "bricks" or "hooter". At least, we do but they don't mean the same thing (-:).
Toot! Toot! Guess the Instrument! is a unique title - I don't think I've ever seen instruments for this age group. Most of them are much easier to guess - the clue for drums shows the elephant with drumsticks and part of a drum, the monkey has sticks in his hands that lead to the shaking maracas, the bear is blowing on what turns out to be a trumpet, you can see part of the guitar around the hippo playing it, and the beaver's playing sticks (what do you call those things?) and a corner of the xylophone are shown. Although I'm not sure "xylophone" is seen anywhere but in alphabet books!
This is very well-done and even if kids don't know all the instruments by name, they'll be able to guess most of them with a little help. The clues, showing parts of the instruments, make a big difference.
This is the simplest and will probably work the best with the youngest children as the clues are very clear and most children are familiar with animals.
The art in all four books is bold and bright, with lots of simple shapes and colors. Children will enjoy the friendly animals that populate the pages and finding different colors and shapes in the pictures.
The physical format....I'm a bit torn. On the one hand, the books are a pretty sturdy cardboard and the flaps are a whole page, not little individual ones that will get torn off. On the other hand, I foresee a LOT of lifting and turning and I'm not sure the hinges will last. Child's Play titles generally run a little more expensive - in the $6-7 range and while I'd normally say it's absolutely worth it, on these I'm not so sure.
Verdict: I think I'd get the musical instruments and animal ones to start with, see how the flaps hold up, possibly see if they can be reinforced, before investing in the whole set. They're a nice additional purchase, but the toy one is too British for most of my audience and the vehicles doesn't have enough clues for the age of the audience.
Published 2015 by Child's Play; Review copies provided by the publisher; Donated to the library