The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

I See Me!, Inc. Personalized Children's Books Review by Donna Campos

My Very Own Name, My Very Own Fairy Tale, and My Very Own ABC's
Maia Haag, Illustrated by Mark Mille, Joyce Patti, and Mark Mille, respectively
I See Me!, Inc.
1101 Fourth Street North
Cannon Falls, MN 55009
1-877-281-0536 (8am-5pm CST)

I See Me!, Inc. offers children's books with personalization. Three of their current title offerings are included for this review. My Very Own Name and My Very Own Fairy Tale are hardback books of various page count, dependent on the name used in the personalization. My Very Own Name is ideal for all children ages 0 to 8 years of age, while My Very Own Fairy Tale is suited for girls up to age 12. My Very Own ABC's Animal Edition is a board book of thirty pages for children ages 0 to 5 years old and comes with a plush lamb suitable for children 3 years and over.

Each title includes personalization, and the two older child "My Very Own" titles allow 15 characters for first and middle names combined, and an additional 15 characters for the last name. The My Very Own ABC's board book allows 15 characters for each of the up to three names in personalization. The two older child titles also require an additional fee for the inclusion of the middle name and the board book includes the middle name in the total cost. All three books have an optional gift box with elastic bow that is available for an additional fee. The gift boxes are sturdy cardboard, brightly colored, with a fold over front cover insuring closure of the box with book slid inside, much like a large box envelope. The colors compliment the various titles and are an incredibly beautiful presentation of these unique, personalized gifts.

The My Very Own Name book is a rhyming story of the animals naming a child and includes an "Illustrated Encyclopedia" of 61 animals at the end of the book.

My Very Own Fairy Tale includes a rhyming story about fairies revealing the name of their chosen princess for her quality character traits and includes an "Illustrated Fairy Patch" featuring 62 fairies with interesting facts about their flowers and berries at the end of the book. The two older child titles are full color hardback books of 8" x 11" with glossy, full-color pages opposing the name on white background pages as letters are presented, with beautiful two-page illustrations as the names are completed.

The board book, My Very Own ABC's, presents each letter of the alphabet in rhyme with various animals offering each letter and is a convenient 5" x 7" size.

Designed for the enjoyment of children as they see their own name in a "real book," the I See Me!, Inc. books include the educational advantage of offering alphabet letters to very young children in the My Very Own ABC's board book and the practice of spelling their own name in the books for older children. Multiple letters are used throughout each book to avoid repetition in names using a letter repeatedly, and rhyme is used throughout all three of the books. The colors are vivid and enticing to children as they work their way through the books, as if seeing their name slowly revealed were not enough enticement! The rhymes are fairly well written and enjoyable, as are the illustrations as they are very playful representations of animals, often wearing jewelry and other clothing accessories as they balance on one foot, hop onto their letter, or salute in military fashion.

The personalization includes gender, birth month, birth day, birth year, a dedication chosen from more than 50 options, including Birthday, Adoption, Big Sister or Big Brother, Hanukkah, Christmas, and more, and middle names can be included, if desired. The "Sender" portion is completely personalized and may include "Love Mom & Dad," "From your Best Big Brother," or other personalization you choose. Personal preference also includes whether the name should be presented in full capitalization, full lower case, or proper name capitalization.

The books will assist children as they learn to recognize their own names and the alphabet letters, and the consistent rhyme will aid in their knowledge of rhyming patterns as they enjoy the books. My Very Own Name and My Very Own Fairy Tale are incredibly personalized as each book unfolds with each additional letter of the child's name. Letters are presented on the left side with pictures on the right for the first and middle names, then the letters switch to right page presentation with pictures on the left for the last name.

My Very Own Name includes many different animals presented in playful characterization and brightly colored illustrations. The included illustrated encyclopedia at the back of the book lists, usually, multiple animals for each letter of the alphabet in a 3" x 1" space for each animal and includes an interesting fact, we found no leaning toward evolution or creation. The My Very Own Fairy Tale book ends with the "Illustrated Fairy Patch" which references a large variety of information about the flowers and berries represented by the various fictional fairies. My Very Own ABC's board book includes four pages of personalization, the first and last pages on both sides, with the bulk of the story a beautiful introduction of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

The My Very Own ABC's Animal Edition includes terrific rhyme and is encouraging toward learning how to read. My Very Own Fairy Tale includes many artistic renditions of physical attributes demonstrating various ethnicities in the fairies and is beautifully written in rhyme. The vivid colors lend attention to each fairy, as the backgrounds include additional fairies and the book encourages readers to find additional fairies hiding throughout the book. There are many illustrations incredibly presented with style and imagination throughout the books: the Yak with Prickly burs in his hair, the animals excitedly peeking into a bassinet, a hippo adorned with glitter, the beaver with a propeller hat, fairies napping on leaves, and animals draped over the many alphabet letters as they are presented were all very amusing. Imagination abounds in these books, as does personalization, children will love reading these books again and again. Some pictures are quite comical, like the warthog trying to be cute, or the Zebra in military salute.

Many young girls will enjoy finding fairies among the many colorful pages of My Very Own Fairy Tale, while all children will giggle at the silly animals in the My Very Own Name book. The board book doesn't present nearly the level of personalization that the books for older children do, but tactful parents will use the value of the child's name in the book to teach the alphabet and enjoy the book as a keepsake. The record of the child's birthdate in each of the books offers an excellent opportunity to read over the information each time a book is shared, helping a child memorize personal facts with much less frustration than dry rote memorization. Although many of the facts offered at the back of the books in the "Fairy Patch" and "Illustrated Encyclopedia" sections are minimal at best, they offer a glimpse into animal and plant information that can be further investigated by thorough families. The Fairy Tale book includes bits of information on pollen, blooms, natural medicine, and even the ingredients of catnip, all found in the short pieces of information in the "Fairy Patch" at the back of the book. The personalization factor will make each of these books a keepsake that will be read again and again. Photographic moments abound as loved ones sit down side by side when visiting with a personalized book to be enjoyed together. In a world of expensive video games that are soon forgotten, personalized books make a wonderful option for gift giving that will be truly enjoyed. The cost of the beautiful gift box with bow offers instant wrapping without all of the hassle, and for no more expense than a gift bag and tissue paper.

One letter animal was repeated in our personalization, but the letter was used three times overall and was different when repeated in the same name. The Fairy Tale book includes a reference to watching the fairies as we "see which letters they magically use" and obviously includes grand imagination of fairies in all of their tiny fictional glamour. Not all of the fairy comments will necessarily be considered personal character traits as some are more vague, like being "special," or "beyond compare," and one reference included the book owner as being an open minded girl who will respect everyone's views. As with all reading material, the books should be enjoyed together so that any necessary explanations can be offered by parents as desired. These are not books to be used as educational material on animals, although they may offer a springboard to incredible studies on various animals, the lively antics of the personified characters are much more imaginative than any true portrayal of an animal. The older books both have tremendous opportunities to include a Godly presentation of animals, nature, creation, and the wonderful place in God's plan that our children hold, but one missed the opportunity while the other presented some distortion. My Very Own Fairy Tale is a beautifully imaginative tale of creatures that many a God fearing girl adores, regardless of their place outside of reality. The positive character traits are tremendous reasons to praise a child, but in truth most children know their strengths and weaknesses and the book will not be accurate in presentation to any specific child. The addition of several poor pieces of information in the "Fairy Patch" were very disappointing for our family, so much so that I would only purchase this book for an older child with a full understanding of God and His creation, if I purchased it at all. Although there were positive inclusions, others included a reference to 400 million years, talk of woodland spirits hiding in leaves, and referencing a wish upon a star, which may lead some children to believe in things better kept to their imagination rather than reality. I wish the My Very Own Name book animals had not actually been naming the child, as we have named our children without help from the animal kingdom and the lack of any parental reference was a missed opportunity to encourage families. Overall, the personalization and enjoyment of the excellent illustrations and playful animal characters in My Very Own Name book offer enough value for our family to enjoy the book tremendously, the lack of biblical reference was better than the presence of non-biblical information. The price of each book may deter some families, particularly with the extra expense of a middle name and/or gift box, both of which help make this a gift that is truly unique, but when considered a keepsake, each book holds value.

My Very Own Name and My Very Own ABC's are books we hope to order as gifts in the future, they will be treasured keepsakes for many families and offer a bit of individuality to every child who owns one. My Very Own ABC's is an excellent first gift for any newborn, and the company will contact you if an item has previously been ordered for a particular child so that you may change or cancel the order. My Very Own Fairy Tale is the most imaginative in our opinion, and with imagination comes responsibility to maintain a biblical outlook, which it did not securely fulfill. Although our daughter will enjoy the book as a keepsake, we will not order another or give it as a gift. We will focus on the My Very Own Name book as a gift for others as it does not include any old earth references and will offer all of the incredible uniqueness of a personal gift safely. Our children are precious gifts from God, incredibly unique and tremendously valued, the I See Me!, Inc. books are a wonderful way to honor that special creation. I hope to see additional versions offered from this company and look forward to the possibility of a creation based edition in the future. Perhaps as Christians purchase more of the very personal books from this company, more faith based offerings will come out of the I See Me!, Inc. line of books. My Very Own ABC's will bless every new baby and preschooler learning the alphabet, while My Very Own Name will lead older children toward name recognition and the value of reading good books! Excitement is enjoyed with each turn of the page as another letter is placed on their very own name, few books will compare to a personalized book. We personalize the education of our children through home schooling, the I See Me!, Inc. books allow us to personalize a few books for them as well!

Product review by: Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008.