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Write Me a Story--Circus Animals' Adventure, and Black Graphite Pencil set Review by Melissa Theberge

170 West 74th Street
New York, NY 10023

What could be more fun than decorative writing paper, stickers, and fresh wooden pencils? With this colorful package of supplies, the young authors in our home have enjoyed writing stories without realizing they are actually "doing school" at all. The eeBoo company has created a unique pad of double-sided paper with orange elementary-ruled lines and a two-tone orange checked border around each page. Pages are perforated and bound with cloth. At the top of each page are squares in which to place stickers. There are between one and five squares on each page. In the back of the pad are two pages of circus-themed stickers that can be placed on the writing papers. With 50 pages and 96 stickers, this product offers numerous writing opportunities! Along with this, I received an additional product to review that coordinates beautifully with the writing pad--12 wooden pencils packed in a circus-themed box.

This writing product blends in easily with most homeschool programs, though it was not specifically produced for homeschooling. We follow a more classical model in our homeschool, but even so, this writing tablet can be incorporated outside the confines of our school learning. It has already been taken out with us one afternoon for errands. I appreciate that it invites the child into the act of writing a story because of the playful look of its cover--a circus scene. Other themes are available as well, including space travel, forests, and fairy tales.

Instructions are brief and easy to implement. Simply choose a page to write on and add stickers that interest the child. Create a story to go along with the sticker images, or add images to suit the story as it is being written. A parent can write the story as the child tells it, or an older child can write on her own. One of the most charming moments of the writing experience came when we opened the box of pencils, each inscribed with the words "don't forget to write" which endeared my seven-year-old daughter to them immediately. Sharpening a fresh specially designated pencil added to the excitement of beginning an original story, and she didn't stop until she had filled two pages. After completing her own story, she helped her five-year-old sister put her story in writing too. I don't expect that this will be the experience every time, but I know they were both drawn into the book by its design, and as a parent looking for meaningful playtime activities, I'm happy to have this one in the repertoire.

My one criticism is the size of the pad, which is 10x12--just a bit too large for a standard notebook or folder. We like to put our writing in a special folder, and it seems that we will need to find a new alternative, especially since the pages fall out of the pad quite easily as they are designed for easy removal. Even so, we are happy to work around this for the enjoyment that the writing has brought to our home. Whether as a gift or for your own use, this product offers a unique twist on writing that children will love.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009